Melbourne architecture practice Clarke Hopkins Clarke has been certified by B Corp, an organization that certifies businesses on their ability to operate in a sustainable and ethical way.
Clarke Hopkins Clarke joins Sydney-based Dunn and Hillam and Melbourne-based Social Design and Architecture as the only architecture firms in Australia certified by B Corp.
Clarke Hopkins Clarke practice partner Robert Goodliffe said: “We are extremely proud to be recognized as the first large architecture practice in Australia to achieve B Corp certification and an industry leader of sustainable business practices.”
B Corp describes its certification as being “to sustainable business what Fair Trade certification is to coffee,” by certifying businesses that pledge to create “benefit for all stakeholders, not just shareholders.”
Ashley Dunn, architect and partner at Dunn and Hillam – one of the first firms in Australia to achieve certification – explained that the certification process involves making changes to a company’s governing structure.“To be a certified B Corp means you write into your company’s constitution an ethical way to practice. It is much like the ISO 9001 QA accreditation process where you are regularly audited to ensure that you are following the commitments you have made.”
According to B Corp’s website, certified companies “meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability, and aspire to use the power of markets to solve social and environmental problems.”
Dunn says that for architects, chasing a B Corp certification can be a beneficial way of managing the tension between an architect’s aims and financial considerations.
“Most architects want to make the world a better place but the pressure of running a profitable business, winning clients and fee competition can lead some into questionable ways of practising,” says Dunn, citing wage theft or the acceptance of work that is detrimental to society and the environment as examples.
“Becoming a B Corp takes the way the business is run out of the hands of the individual and embeds it in the governing structure. This is important if the business is growing and other partners may come on board.”