Sustainability pays off.
Surely that’s the case for Arup, the global built environmental firm that’s dedicated to the concept.
“Our firm is built around sustainability – it’s everything for us,” says Fiona Cousins, chair, Americas region at the firm. “The question is: ‘What’s a better world and how will we know we’ve made one?’”
It’s a perspective that’s earned Arup the 2022 Honor Award from the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The award will be presented at the museum’s gala on June 16. That evening, the museum will also unveil its new institutional pillars, which provide a vision for impact and focus for its work. The four pillars – equity, environment, innovation and wonder – now guide the organization.
Those pillars align well with Arup’s measuring system, called Creating Sustainable Futures. “For the last eight to nine years, it’s been a way of measuring and shaping a better world,” Cousins says. “Our work has a good sustainable outcome, as much as we possibly can.”
Measuring is difficult, she says, because it’s multi-faceted. Decarbonization may be easy, but the social impact component is more difficult. “It’s not impossible to say this is better though – for us it’s part of the journey that we and the industry are on,” she says. “And we want to push the metrics and how to find them – how we’re interacting with clients and the work.”
ARUP employs more than 17,000 people worldwide, and 1,800 in Canada, the U.S., and Colombia. It’s primarily an engineering firm, though it does have a strong architectural practice in Canada.
As might be expected, its clientele is diverse. “In our transport portfolio are transit, aviation, rail and a little in tunnels for highways,” she says. “Then there’s government, healthcare, education, and energy resources around water.”
And its design intent focuses on how architecture and design affects the natural environment. “We want to create a built environment, and if we can look at the difference we can make to build healthier, that’s the road we’re going to take,” she says.
That means paying close attention to the human scale – using pedestrian modeling to examine how far to walk, how to move through a space, and wayfinding. “It’s about the planning and programming of space, and thinking of human impact,” she says. “We work with lighting and electrical engineering so people get through the space from the services part for wellness and wellbeing in terms of noise and light.”
When the award’s presented, Arup will be in good company. Past recipients include Irwin Miller, the Rockefeller family, Lady Bird Johnson, Cindy and Jay Pritzker and Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan.
Because, after all, sustainability pays off.