DT: Yeah. But that is a big thrust that you've noticed, is it over the last year or so? Is it changing?
AP: I think that yeah it is a big thrust. I think Covid has accelerated that and it's not so much of a nice to have, we must have these bases now and make them better and it is important for the health and well-being of children, learning outside. It is being encouraged by local authorities as well when we are getting planning applications in, as something they want to see. We had one the other day on one of our planning applications - they wanted a pond. Ponds are really good for outdoor learning and going outside and actually getting engaged and simulated around the pond. Things like that are much higher up the agenda than they were before.
DT: Is the community hub idea becoming more common amongst some of the projects that you're working on? You’re working at Northwood and Sutton High School and Brighton high and Streatham and Clapham High School. Are there any trends amongst those that you can pinpoint on the community aspect?
AP: Yeah! I think what is really nice when you look at the facilities that that a lot of schools are working on, they do have the community element, and this means that it is not only used by them, but it's used by the community. One school that we had in particular in in Northwood has a maker space that is used for learning as well as being used for engaging with the community. The community will come in and interact, and that's so important at the moment for health and wellbeing of the children and to get engaged with different groups of people and learn.
They have got nice initiatives where you've got older people coming in to use the computers and laptops and they are learning off the younger children. It is really important for both parties in terms of improving their health, and I think it's really nice to have these partnerships as well which benefit other people in the community as opposed to just the school. I think sometimes you think oh, it is just the schools that are going to benefit from that, but no, there is an opportunity for the whole community to benefit.
DT: Well, it's nice to see some good news for a change, especially in these times, in tree planting terms! When's your first ceremony in a school grounds as a result of this carbon negative scheme? Have you got all that planned?
AP: We don't actually know when that is going to take place yet, but it would be good to get involved at some point! I don't know about logistics because it’s difficult at the moment, but it feels good that we’re actually contributing to that planting and it’s going to happen hopefully soon. We will have to get involved.
DT: That will be good to see. One last question: your carbon footprint will presumably in travel terms be that much less anyway across your three offices over the next period when you're calculating the year, so does that mean that you'll be doing less planting?
AP: No. The company we worked with had to establish a new way of calculating carbon footprint because we're not in the office and we are not doing much travel. But we are still using energy at home and they had to come up with a way to calculate home working that will be factored into it. And then on the other side we of course want to keep contributing - that's why we were keen to do carbon negative, post carbon neutral. We don't just want to carbon offset what we do, we want to give back more, so yeah, we're actually improving the impact as opposed to just covering off what our emissions have been. That is something that we are really conscious of and we’re going to keep doing. it's just an initiative now that we’re really excited to be involved in, so we'll see. I think the thing with tree planting as well is, if it’s schools in the UK it’s something that you can monitor and follow, so that's why we like that project as well.
DT: Magic. Well, congratulations. It sounds like a really great scheme so nice work, and see you soon!
AP: Yes! Thank you very much! Bye!