Today is the earliest ever Earth Overshoot Day.

Sam Carlsson

Sam Carlsson, Senior Sustainability Consultant

Three ways to #movethedate: one year on.

Overshoot Day is the day in which, globally, we begin using more resources than the Earth has capacity to regenerate in a year.

The bad news is the date has been brought forward by three days since last year, making it the earliest one yet. Between 2011-2016 Overshoot Day was fairly stable, even moving one day later in the year. However since 2016, it has moved forward by a shocking two/three days each year.

The momentum for change is higher than it has ever been, and not a day goes by where we aren’t reminded about the climate emergency that we’re now in.

Tackling this emergency is about information and action. You may recall our insight last year on Overshoot Day where we highlighted three ways to #movethedate. So what actions have we taken in the last year?

1 – Moving to a decarbonised world

Decarbonising the world continues to be one of the best ways to address climate change and reduce our ecological deficit. We’ve been educating our clients and networks about the importance of moving to an all-electric future. In response, more and more of our projects are being designed to be all-electric to progress the route to a combustion-free future.

There are also a variety of new behaviours that we’re exploring, many of which are discussed in our Constructing a combustion-free future series.

2 – Transforming thinking and behaviour

We have introduced our new sustainability development framework for projects. It provides a clear and comprehensive way to consider and implement sustainable design, based on measurable targets and delivered value.

Our firm has also signed the recent Engineers Declare charter, adding our voice to those of like-minded building services engineers to recognise that urgent action needs to be taken to help resolve climate breakdown and biodiversity loss.

Statements like Engineers Declare need to be backed up with action. In the coming weeks, we’ll be sharing the comprehensive action plan we’ve developed since signing the declaration.

3 – Informing new business models

Our firm is also a key member of the UKGBC Circular Economy and Advancing Net Zero working groups. These initiatives are focused on setting a clear path to both a net-zero built environment and a circular-economy system-thinking approach to design, at the pace and scale required to protect our planet. We are already actively helping our clients achieve these aspirations on a variety of projects.

We’re also a delivery partner for the Better Building Partnership’s Design for Performance initiative, which is working to reduce energy consumption across the commercial sector.

The power of your individual action!

While it’s vital that organisations like ourselves, along with governments, continue to take action in light of this climate emergency, there’s also a great deal that we as individuals can do. So, on this Overshoot Day, don’t feel powerless! Instead, remember how much impact each and every one of us can have on moving Overshoot Day and climate breakdown.

So what can you do, today?

Calculate your carbon footprint using the WWF’s carbon calculator. Share the results with us on Twitter via @Hoarelea, #carbonfootprint, #movethedate, and declare the actions you’ll take over the next year to reduce your carbon footprint.

Need ideas? Here are some simple steps you can take in your everyday life to #movethedate:

  • Switch to a 100% renewable electricity tariff
  • Consider your commute. Can you walk, run, or cycle? If not can you use public transport? Still no? What about car-pooling with a friend? Or if you must travel by car… make it electric!
  • Embrace the natural environment; plant a tree in your garden or join a community gardening group to ‘green’ your town
  • Reduce the number of meals you eat that have meat in
  • Try alternatives to your dairy milk
  • Minimise food waste (cutting food waste in half worldwide would bring Overshoot Day back by 10 days)
  • Buy food with no or minimal plastic packaging
  • Can you travel by train for your holidays? If not, consider off-setting your flight with a verifiable scheme.
  • …and, most importantly, share what you’ve done with friends and family; you can inspire them to make positive changes and indirectly help to reduce even more carbon.

Scarily, I’ve discovered that my own carbon footprint is six tonnes more than the UK’s average. So I’ll be working to reduce this over the next year, spurred on by knowing we all have a part to play in resolving the biggest single issue of our time.

If not you, who? If not now, when?