Consultancy and Engineering Awards: Max Fordham win Sustainability Champion prize

Max Fordham’s unique approach to unique projects, their commitment to innovation, willingness to share their ideas and spread sustainable best practice, made the firm an irresistible proposition to judges for Sustainability Champion of the Year.

Sustainability starts with design and runs right through the construction process and into the operational phase of a building. Modern sustainable engineering must be devoted to sustainability to be credible and one firm has this ethos at its very core. Max Fordham was founded by the man himself in 1966 and its original ownership model has kept the company democratic, idealistic and utterly committed to sustainability.

Max Fordham’s approach to design seems to be as unique as the company itself. Their submission focused on quirky projects that stimulated innovative approaches to sustainability and included work on heritage buildings, working libraries and art galleries, each presenting their own challenges. 

They showcased how they had developed systems to allow natural light into air galleries while simultaneously adhering to painting conservation procedures, used unobtrusive methods such as air-tightening to insulate heritage buildings and reduced CO2 emissions by 50% in a Worcester library. Furthermore, Max Fordham’s approach to research in urban design as part of their Green Cities project is incredibly holistic. It looks for ways to make green and blue rooves to provide greater water management, biodiversity, ecosystem services, pollution reduction and food production. Clearly, Max Fordham understand the interconnected nature of the environment and design appropriately. 

The company has set up the MAX R+I, a research and innovation department that both actively shares its findings with the rest of the industry through events and publications, but also has testing facilities to assure clients that more experimental sustainable methods and technologies do what they say on the tin, minimising risk. 

What’s more Max Fordham has built a ‘Sustainability Matrix’ that allows clients to work collaboratively with the consultants to communicate their sustainability aspirations. This outward-looking model is a big part of why the judges decided that Max Fordham’s approach was worthy of the Sustainability Champion of the Year Award.

What makes Max Fordham’s approach truly special is their clear commitment to buildings beyond the project’s formal duration. They continue to monitor their impact on reducing carbon emissions and even conduct post-occupancy review of their projects, enabling them to identify when a building may be performing at less than its optimum. More importantly, this perspective provides a learning opportunity for future projects and encourages best practice in every part of the organisation meaning that it isn’t just the sustainability teams that care about sustainability. 

Judges’ comments
“Of particular note for the judges was that throughout the design process Max Fordham engineers considered the life-cycle impacts including the environmental effects of the project from construction through to eventual demolition or reuse. They collaborated closely with client, architects and design teams and used local materials wherever possible to reduce their carbon footprint.”

Mott MacDonald