Chow:Hill CSR 2016 - 2017

This is our eighth year reporting on our business activities through a Company Social Responsibility (CSR) framework. Our report aims to broadly, simply, and importantly, transparently describe, evaluate and explain positive and negative impacts of our activities, while identifying our strategic goals and performance targets.

Chow:Hill CSR 2016 - 2017

Our report aims to broadly, simply, and importantly, transparently describe, evaluate and explain positive and negative impacts of our activities, while identifying our strategic goals and performance targets.

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To question the relevance of sustainability to any organisation is in itself no longer a relevant question. Rather, ‘What are you doing?’ in relation to organisational policies, strategies and operations is highly relevant, and urgent. These are long-standing concerns for Chow:Hill and are examined at Board, management and team levels, internally thorough day-to-day acivities, and externally in the work we do with clients.

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Our drive for sustainable business performance internally comes from the energy and commitment of those at Board level; externally it is driven by our vision for ourselves as innovative designers, recognised for shaping authentic places and inspiring people. With the latter it means working with clients to create environments that are enhanced socially, economically and environmentally for their stakeholders. Our Internal activities are manageable and measurable; external activities significantly less so, yet offer the greatest opportunity for meaningful impact.

We set three strategic Priorities this year – Brand, Quality, and Sector Development. The first focussed on clear and consistent communication through website, company documents and publications; the second on the quality of our design outputs and training; and the third developing knowledge and promoting what we know to target markets. These are medium to long-term priorities and will flow into the following years.

The most significant benefit of this has been the process itself – priority areas having owners, a programme of activities and set goals against which other activity such as marketing, training, technical resources, research, and collaborations can cluster and gain coherency.

The rise of the ‘housing crisis’, our ageing population (and where they willl choose to live), and funding of public sectors such as health and education have all impacted on our business this year. Each is influenced by investment availability, client confidence, sector delivery capacity, and political policy – all outside our ability to influence. Our capacity to work across multiple sectors, in different regions, and holding to  valued long-term client relationships has helped us to navigate strong fluctuations in this environment.

We view the 2017 general election as perhaps having the greatest impact on our markets, the communities in which we work and business outlook over the next year.

Maurice Kiely  //  Director, Sustainability.


Generated 101% of budgeted revenue, up from 87%  
Liquidity ratio up from 2.12 to 2.22 


Growth in staff numbers of 24%


CO2 footprint reduced by 20.5%


In its position as a significant contributor to the design of the built environment across New Zealand, Chow:Hill takes its role seriously in the creation of thriving and sustainable communities.


{Tamaki Makaurau}





We’re proud that our combined three centres of operation form one of the most gender and ethnically diverse organisations of our kind in New Zealand.

Our Offering

Chow:Hill works with clients across New Zealand, predominantly in Auckland and Waikato, and offers Urban Design, Architecture, Interior Design, Landscape Architecture and Health Design services.

Market Sector

Our primary market sectors are Health, Tertiary Learning, Community Environments, Public Realm, Apartments, Commercial and Public Sector.


Chow:Hill is a Limited Liability Company owned by eight Shareholder/Directors and who form our governance Board - Darryl Carey, Maurice Kiely, Simon Woodall, Brian Squair, Stuart Mackie, Jane Hill, Brian Rastrick and Anner Chong. Our current Board Chair is Brian Squair. Chief Executive Kalpana Reddy is responsible for managing commercial operations and reporting to our Board.

Precautionary Approach

Chow:Hill takes a Precautionary Approach in our business operations through risk evaluation, management and reporting by our Board and CEO; our project team members adopt the same during design activities in relation to materials, products and systems specified within building projects for our clients.

Our Business, Our People

Our business direction is driven by company purpose, an understanding of our core strengths, and set of shared values. Within this context relationships with clients and other stakeholders are formed, and from these relationships projects, places and stories develop.

Our Vision

We are innovative designers recognised for shaping authentic places and inspiring people.

Our Purpose

We commit to our clients' success through collaboration and design thinking.

Our Essence

Collaboration - listen, design, succeed.

Our Values

Passion, Creativity, Agility and Integrity
These values influence our decision-making, underpin relationships with stakeholders and help us create the future we want to experience.

"After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the thing we need most in the world.
-Philip Pullman, author

Our Stakeholders

Engagement with stakeholders is not carried out specifically in the preparation of this report. Rather it arises out of day-to-day business operations, design-work commissioned by clients, and the feedback received – either directly, or indirectly – from the end-users and the public who inhabit the places we create. From time to time we undertake staff and client surveys and post-project reviews. In this report we have note that no significant issues or concerns have been raised by stakeholders during this reporting period that have social, environmental or economic impacts. In future reports we will consider what may be more subtle messages and look to present more tangible examples of matters of interest or concern raised by stakeholders, and how we have responded to them. 

We think our relationship with external stakeholders is strong and we are pleased to note that during this reporting period we haven't received any feedback from them recording any adverse social, environmental or economic impacts from our operations.

Supply Chain

Our essential supplies include the following businesses:


When evaluating company performance, we distinguish between and report separately on our performance in relation to strategic priorities and that in relationship to Operational Indicators.



Three strategic Priorities were set by our Board before the start of the 2016-2017 financial year. They are the topics we felt were most material to our business and potentially of greatest impact internally and externally.

Here we report on our stated targets for each priority area and our PERFORMANCE against those targets.

One of the most significant impact of our work in these areas has been the process itself – priority areas having owners, a programme of activities and set goals against which other activity such as marketing, training, technical resources, research, and collaborations can cluster and gain coherency.  



To improve design quality, documentation quality and process quality – three themes with twenty-one initiatives, classified as short, medium or long-term.
Theme 1 - Make improvement in our own design capablity and capacity to increase our profile and increase project opportunities;
Theme 2 - Refresh our Quality Assurance and Monitoring systems and increase uptake and team effectiveness;
Theme 3 – Improve communication and understanding of processes within our Studios and assist in their ongoing evolution.


Theme 1: We’ve increased sharing and display of design work internally, holding small design competitions, increased our capability in project imaging, encouraged attendance at key design conferences for our Graduate staff (NZIA and NZILA) and entered design awards programmes , being winner of a Property Council Excellence Award.

Theme 2: We’ve employed a CAD Manager, enhanced our drawing protocols and procedures including project set-ups, improved CAD capability to coordinate drawing outputs between consultants and refreshed the process of developing typical details.

Theme 3: We’ve updated software systems (and have an ongoing maintenance programme) and worked on better project planning. 


We believe our ability to deliver projects has been enhanced - creating greater efficiency and effectiveness internally, reducing project risk for our clients (project quality and project programming) externally, and delivering a higher quality of design. 

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Brand Presence


To consolidate previous activity and to build on this through five ‘Profiles’:
Design Profile - Design conferences, research related to key market sectors, and awards programmes.
Social Profile – Client events, sponsorship, speaking presentations.
Media Profile - Website improvements, blog postings, social media, publication.
Graphic Profile - Logo and company livery, submission documents, sector profiles.
Physical Profile - Premises signs, premises quality, site signs.


We’ve increased attendance at sector specific conferences and undertaken more research into our health, tertiary learning and community living sectors – budgets were allocated for travel and research to each of our sectors; awards programmes have been entered where we believe we have projects of appropriate quality. We are strongly involved with NAWIC ( National association of Women in Construction) We increased our budgets for sponsorship and client events have been linked to arts sponsorship programmes ( refer ‘Our Business, Our People’ section); budgets for donations to social services and environmental programmes such as Million Metres Streams were also increased. Presentations have been made to organisations such as the Property Council in Waikato. Website graphics have been tuned and our projects pages refreshed and reformatted; blog pieces have been posted on our website more regularly. Our new logo and company livery have been launched, and signs rolled out at both studios; submission documents are a work in progress and sector documents yet to be looked at.


Our increased presence in depth at conferences has been noted and our involvement and exposure with NAWIC (in Auckland) and Property Council (in Waikato) has been palpable. The logo development has been met with very positive feedback. Impact of blog posts externally is uncertain and we will be surveying this specifically in the coming year. We have definitely noticed an increase in referrals – and this could be attributed to the performance of our people and client relationships as much as any overt brand campaign.

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Sector Development


To align our thinking, resources and relationships with six agreed market sectors – Tertiary Learning, Health, Commercial, Apartments, Community Living, and Public Realm – the aim of which is to develop new relationships, build capacity, increase business revenue and market share.


We now have a regular reporting at Board level by individual Directors responsible for each market sector – reports note research, resources, learning opportunities, relationships, potential projects and resultant business development. Board reports now detail revenue by sector and we can track new business. Sector clusters also provide our staff with a clearer picture of where are efforts are placed and why.


The clarity allows us to be more selective in the work we pursue, to target learning opportunities and research efforts, and generally to be more efficient and effective. External impacts are harder to judge at this time and will need a longer term evaluation.

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Our Priorities for 2017-2018

Our evaluation of performance against this years PRIORITIES concluded that we need to retain this focus for the coming 2017-2018 year. To these we have added two others of significance.



Providing a set of in-house seminars related to topics such as technical documentation, project planning and developing successful design; external leadership training; CAD coordination and file set-ups; and typical details.

Brand and Presense


Developing client proposal and design capability documentation and a communications strategy across all media; steering towards fulfilling our Vision, “We are innovative designers recognised for shaping authentic places and inspiring people.

Sector Development


Maintaining our focus on developing business within our six main market sectors; at the same time remaining open to new opportunities and the unique.

Revenue & Write off


Promoting project efficiency to reduce writeoff to a 19% across the business, and to maintain or exceed total annual revenue compared to 2106-2017.

Sustainable Design


Starting with internal conversations, encouraging clients at project scoping, briefing and design stages to integrate environmentally sustainable systems into their projects.


This section of our report relates to hard data collected monthly and consistently year by year to allow comparison of annual results and long-term patterns of performance.

Data Gathering

This is our seventh annual Company Sustainability Report. Linked to this page is detailed data on our performance against specific GR4 indicators. You will also see our most significant results featured on our ‘KPI Highlights’ section following.

As we have noted elsewhere, display of data in itself is not adequate to fully describe how we conduct our business, the impact we have on others, or to report matters of interest or concern to our stakeholders. You will find broader commentary on business and community relationships, social matters and project impacts on our ‘Making Connections’, ‘Our Business/Our People’ sections of this report and via links to our wider website content.

Reporting Framework

We have prepared this report based on the updated GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.

Our most recent report prior to that was published mid- 2016. In 2016 the G4 framework was superseded by the GRI Standards system and it is under this system as a ‘GRI Referenced document’ that our (next) 2017-2018 report will be produced.

Application Level

This report now includes Disclosures prepared in accordance with the ‘Referencing’ requirements. This report is not referenced to an External Assurance Report. 

Sustainability Reporting Guidelines

The GRI- G4 reporting guidelines are there to, “ …help organisations set goals, measure performance and manage change to make their operations more sustainable. A sustainability report conveys…impacts - be they positive or negative - on the environment, society and the economy. Internationally agreed disclosures and metrics enable information … to be made accessible and comparable, providing stakeholders with enhanced information to inform their decisions”

Full Results

Click ‘Download Indicators’ below to view a schedule of all GRI Standards Indicators reported this year and for comparison a schedule of G4 Indicators reported in previous years.

Download Indicators

Click on each icon below to launch and browse our full results across all KPI’s.

KPI Highlights

We collect data to measure a range of business-relevant performance areas defined in the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards framework, and these are reported in detail elsewhere in our ‘Measurement’ section.

Our most interesting or significant results are highlighted here, whether they are highly positive or the contra. Recognising and understanding the ‘why’ of the negative acts as a catalyst to improve our performance.



25% of our Board and 40% of our Senior Management are female.


Financial accounts and social investment

Generated 101% of budgeted revenue, compared with 87.3% in 2015-2016. Operating margin 3% below budget, compared to 56.2% below budget
in 2015-2016.
Overheads 5.1% under budget.
Key financial ratios:
Liquidity ratio: 2.22
(2.12 in 2015-2016).
Debt to equity ratio: 1.11
(1.27 in 2015-2016).
Health and Safety expenditure increased by 136%.
Recruitment expenditure for staff development increased by 66%.
Donations and Sponsorship expenditure reduced by $12,000
or 33%.


Donations and sponsorship

Decreased by 32.5 compared with an increase of 157% on 2014-2015.



Total emissions down 20.5%
Water use (Hamilton) down 18.3%.
Air Travel down 52.1% and our emissions for fuel consumption reduced by 30.47 tCO2e.
Waste to landfill reduced by 829k or 23%.

CO2 Footprint


Our CO2 emission levels for 2016 -2017 were 88.98 tonnes, that’s down 22.87 tonnes, or 20.5% on last year’s total of 111.85. Our Hamilton Studio emissions were up marginally by 1.73 tonnes to 43.23 tonnes, Auckland down by 24.6 tonnes to 45.74 tonnes – the result of a significant drop in car and air travel to outside centres.

Last year's target was to meet a 5% reduction and we have exceeded this goal. More detail of the performance of individual Studios can be viewed on our KPI section.

For the 2017-2018 year we would be satisfied with holding to this year's total.


Catalyst NZ make available for us our use of their ‘catalyst Carbon Calculator to measure our contributing categories - electricity, electricity line losses, vehicle petrol, vehicle diesel, taxi travel, air flights, office waste and air conditioning refrigerant loss. Our measurement is of Direct Emissions only.

  • The trend over seven years is an increase in Hamilton Studio’s emissions and a decrease in Auckland Studio’s emissions to the point where they are close to being equal, despite varying staff numbers ( AKL/HAM 2:1 approximately). Contributing to this is a general increase in travel out of their home centre by our Hamilton staff and the reverse for Auckland staff, the latter helped in part by a rise in telephone and and video conferencing.


We continue to offset our emissions via the Sustainable Business Network’s ‘Million Metres Streams’ crowd-funded restoration of New Zealand’s waterways. This has seen close to $3,224 donated this year to the planting of around 140 metres of riparian waterways related to projects Restoring Rosebank Peninsula (Auckland, Te Onetea Stream Extension Project (Waikato) and the Hoteo River (Northland) - you can read more about MMS at

Explore Previous Years