Winner — Whitbybird

This year’s winner has a simple formula for success: just cut carbon dioxide emissions and everything else falls into place. This is, however, devastatingly effective. Whitbybird buildings emit on average 40% less CO2 than comparable buildings. Over the past 10 years this has translated into 2000 tonnes of CO2 above the best practice standards prevented from being emitted into the air and £1.2m of energy being saved. Impressive stuff but Whitby Bird is not content to stop at this. At its scheme to design the Centre for Manufacturing and Engineering Excellence (pictured) it has used photovoltaic cells to provide 15% of the building’s electricity and has ensured that the atrium is south-facing so as to cut heating bills by between 30 and 40%. Even its own staff are turning green with power consumption cut by 20% in Whitbybird’s offices, and canteen food sourced locally to reflect what’s in season.

Runners up

Building design partnership

In the past 12 months Building Design Partnership has more than tripled its number of environmental designers from four to 15. It has also launched its own sustainability website and run two weeks of sustainability events in June as part of London Sustainable Week. The consultant has also convinced supermarket Tesco to use organic waste to provide heat and power at a mixed-use site in Tolworth. As a result BDP was invited to represent the construction industry on an Environment Agency panel to examine the impact on London’s water supply of the impending 2012 Olympics and the Thames Gateway housing projects.

Cooper Partnership

From reusing topsoil to laying porous paving slabs, landscape architect Cooper Partnership has impressively green credentials. The secret to continuing this, it claims, is winning over clients to the sustainability cause. It does this by specifying largely recycled products on most of its projects. For example using spent mushroom compost or sewage sludge for topsoil or simply moving, as opposed to felling, trees on its long-term contract at Bristol Business Park. On one project in Street, Somerset Cooper Partnership ensured that excess topsoil was incorporated into the final landscaped design rather than be removed, preventing 500 unnecessary lorry journeys.

Sheppard Robson

Last year’s winner continues to impress this year in its quest to remain “the most sustainable designers in the country”. In addition to its sustainable design index auditing tool, it asks every client to complete a questionnaire that lets Sheppard Robson know exactly how often they can play the sustainability card. It is also keeping its own house in order, with further reductions in energy use planned in its offices by next year, sustainable “action days” in the pipeline, as well as developing a strategy to become a carbon neutral company.