Sustainability Principles

Sustainability is a wide-ranging subject with many definitions. Addressing crucial concerns about climate change, we believe our projects must also encompass the health and wellbeing of our communities. This has been a central theme of our work for more than five decades. We work closely with our clients to develop bespoke design solutions that are optimised for their operations and the planet.

We have specialist in-house teams for carbon impact assessments, environmental analysis, materials research, landscape and workplace design, and environmental and structural engineering. Together with the design teams, they develop sustainable frameworks and identify environmental targets for a healthier world. We follow our projects through design and construction and can monitor the building performance while in-use.

Carbon impact: led by our sustainability team, our aim is to meet the Paris Agreement targets. Even at their highest level, current worldwide sustainability assessment methods do not achieve the agreed maximum of +1.5 degree increase in global temperatures. We have therefore developed our own comprehensive assessment, which includes the evaluation of both embodied and operational carbon, to fully assess our designs for whole life carbon impact. This measures both the construction phase and the subsequent building in-use over sixty years. The results are then analysed using our Sustainability Barometer, which records assessments of all our current projects. This holistic approach is summarised in our Sustainability Manifesto.

Environmental approach: led by our environmental engineering team, we assess the environmental performance of our projects and develop innovative, future-proof solutions to mitigate the impact of climate change. Learning lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, our focus is on resilience, flexibility, health and wellbeing. Our design approach addresses sustainability holistically, from efficient use of natural resources, circular economy strategies and biophilia to thermal comfort and indoor air quality. We seek to leverage the power of design to enhance the lived experience for all.

As an environmentally driven studio, we aim to practice what we preach. Over recent years we have developed an analytical framework for our own office, based on our bespoke Foster + Partners Responsibility Framework (FRF). This covers ten sustainability related themes - Wellbeing, Community Impact, Energy and Carbon, Mobility and Connectivity, Resources, Water, Land and Ecology, Social Equity, Planning for Change, and Feedback - and informs our CSER policy. It is driven by a desire to deliver lasting benefits for our staff and local communities. View our latest CSER report here.

  • Together it's up to us

  • From the very beginning our practice was founded on a philosophy of innovation, sustainability and design. We continue to learn from the past and creatively embrace the challenges of the future, with a firm belief that good design makes a difference.
    Norman Foster, Founder and Executive Chairman, Foster + Partners
  • Wellbeing

    Wellbeing aims to protect and improve the environment for all building users, ensuring it is healthy and of the highest quality.

  • Community Impact

    Community impact looks at the social and economic effects of the project on the users and surrounding communities, encouraging the successful integration of the project into the local community.

  • Energy and Carbon

    Energy and Carbon focusses on the optimisation of energy performance and encourages the use of renewable energy, offsetting carbon emissions.

  • Mobility and Connectivity

    Mobility and Connectivity evaluates how people move around the building and its surroundings using different methods of transportation.

  • Resources

    Resources focusses on the lifecycle impact of building materials, promoting those that are locally sourced and with recycled content.

  • Water

    Water aims to reduce the water a project uses during and after construction, through its optimisation, water recycling and reuse.

  • Land and Ecology

    Land and Ecology focusses on protecting and maintaining the ecosystem and natural habitats surrounding and within the building.

  • Social Equity

    Social Equity aims to ensure prosperity without gentrification, offering added value though design, optimisation and performance in all aspects of the project.

  • Planning for Change

    Planning for Change encourages future thinking in the design process.

  • Feedback

    Feedback assesses the efficiency of services and monitors the use of a building, allowing lessons to be learned for future projects.

  • Accreditations | BREEAM

    The Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method (BREEAM) is widely used in the UK to assess new and existing building types. Standard assessment types exist for common building types and BREEAM ‘Other Buildings’ can be used to tailor criteria for the assessment of unusual and unique buildings. BREEAM is now also available in Europe and the EU and is being developed in other countries around the world.

  • Accreditations | LEED

    The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System™ encourages and accelerates global adoption of sustainable green building and development practices through the creation and implementation of universally understood and accepted tools and performance criteria.

  • Accreditations | WELL

    The WELL Building Standard is a vehicle for buildings and organizations to deliver more thoughtful and intentional spaces that enhance human health and well-being. Backed by the latest scientific research, WELL includes strategies that aim to advance health by setting performance standards for design interventions, operational protocols and policies and a commitment to fostering a culture of health and wellness.

  • Accreditations | Other

    We often use local rating standards such as Green Mark (Singapore), HQE (France) and NABHERS (Australia) to ensure that our buildings meet the environmental standards of its place. These ratings are tailored to the climate and specific characteristics of the region and offer a bespoke framework of analysis for a project.

Our Research and Insights