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How NORR is designing a sustainable future with Positive Planet

NORR is a global architecture and engineering firm made up of 800 employees across the UK, US, and Canada. After understanding the ever-increasing importance of sustainability as a driver for their clients’ projects, NORR decided it was time to publicly engage in sustainability. Positive Planet sat down with Blake Jackson, Director of Sustainability, at NORR…

NORR is a global architecture and engineering firm made up of 800 employees across the UK, US, and Canada. Throughout its 86 years in operation, the business has developed a mission to create socially aware, environmentally responsible, and financially viable architecture and engineering design solutions. Ensuring all clients achieve their business goals while contributing to healthier and sustainable spaces across the globe.

Seeing the ever-increasing importance of sustainability as a driver for their clients’ projects, NORR wanted to align its internal sustainability initiatives to a series of external commitments to ensure positive outcomes across its global footprint and its portfolio of projects, alike. Positive Planet recently sat down with Blake Jackson, Director of Sustainability, at NORR to gain a better understanding of how Positive Planet’s ongoing support has helped the business deliver on its decarbonisation goals.

Whilst operating within UK markets, NORR became aware of, and impacted by PPN 06/21 legislation. As part of PPN 06/21, companies competing for certain contracts and new business are required to report on organisational carbon emissions. This was an initial driver to engage in publicly disseminated sustainability  operations reporting, and ultimately led to the start of NORR’s relationship with Positive Planet.

Understanding the increasing needs and opportunities imposed by the growing stringency of sustainability requirements globally, led NORR, in 2022, to recruit Blake to build and lead a companywide team to support internal initiatives and project delivery for clients. Being the first dedicated sustainability personnel for a global company posed some challenges in data collection, management, and interpretation.

Blake knew external support would help bring the skills and resources necessary to set NORR’s decarbonisation vision into immediate motion, rather than starting from scratch, through leveraging existing educational resources, tools to streamline and standardise processes, and reliance on a trusted partner who reflected NORR’s values and integrity as a company.


“Tracking and reporting our GHG footprint with Positive Planet has become a core part of our business strategy, helping us to qualify for, and win, projects with a high sustainability focus.

This also allows us to engage staff and stakeholders around positive behaviours and initiatives that support our goal of achieving net-zero operational emissions, globally.”

Blake Jackson, Director of Sustainability, NORR

NORR’s solution was simple at first: engage with Positive Planet to comply with UK legislation to access high-value contracts. However, through this process, and because of their desire to align all global corporate commitments towards decarbonisation , NORR was compelled to expand this partnership, companywide, to include all UK, US, and Canadian locations – plus their partner company, Cion – to gain a complete understanding of its global carbon footprint and initiate steps to reduce global emissions.

In 2023, NORR accessed more Positive Planet support, including enrolment within both the net zero strategy and Science-based Targets initiative (SBTi) preparation and submission assistance. The continuous engagement and collaboration with Positive Planet showcase NORR’s commitment to measured, positive impact. As the business anticipates similar environmental legislative changes in North America, NORR’s ongoing actions leave them well ahead of the curve compared to industry competitors.

Transitioning to a perpetual hybrid working model, post-COVID-pandemic, has contributed to a ~30% reduction in overall leased space, with consequent emissions reduction, all while continuing to grow. The business simultaneously adopted a companywide “green” design, construction, and operations guideline so that future relocation, renovation, and refresh projects will align with their decarbonisation goals.

The ongoing partnership has also allowed NORR to join the Net-Zero Challenge , a voluntary initiative spearheaded by the Canadian government, similar in essence to PPN 06/21, which requires SBTi planning. The company now better qualifies for federal government projects, worth $5million+, allowing NORR to more readily demonstrate its ability to comply with increasingly stringent sustainability measures required by the Federal Government of Canada.

Back in the UK, NORR’s engagement with Positive Planet has had similar positive impacts, too. Compliance with PPN 06/21 legislation has enabled the company to pursue top-tier projects and clients, enhancing financial performance and competitiveness. Globally, the collaboration has meant the company can communicate its sustainability impacts to stakeholders with credibility and confidence, boosting brand reputation and attractiveness to potential clients.

NORR is continuously looking at ways to design a greener future. Its commitment to designing and implementing a holistic plan that works at all levels of the company remains a priority. Positive Planet’s work with NORR is ongoing as the company continues to take steps to become even more sustainable.

Plans remain in place to make solid progress, in all three countries, to help each business entity achieve its national decarbonisation targets through initiatives like the Net-Zero Challenge , the AIA 2030 Commitment, and the SE 2050 Commitment.

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