Chow:Hill CSR 2019 - 2020

This is our 11th year reporting on our business activities through a Company Social Responsibility (CSR) framework.


360 Degree View


360° View

In our 2018-2019 report we illustrated the important relationship between our values, purpose and prosperity and how these connected intimately with those of our clients and other stakeholders. Over the past year that equation has remained true and the growing momentum and success of the business is testament to that.

 In this report we address our response and performance against strategic matters (our Priorities section) and operational measures (KPI’s in our Measurement section). In relation to the former, this year has been one of consolidation of the key areas of Relationships, People, Branding, Design culture and Technology. Each area has demonstrated momentum and a level of consistency which we feel are at a point where they are being habituated within the business and can evolve further through a regular monitoring and management process.

All but one of our key performance indicators is moving in the right direction. The one disappointing result is the increase in our CO₂ emissions, up nearly 12% on the previous year, the main contributor result of increased air travel by both studios, followed by motor vehicle use. Our increase in revenue and new project opportunities is in (approximate) inverse proportion to our CO₂ emissions and our challenge in 2019-2020 is maintaining the former two whilst reducing the latter.

The arrival and rise of the Covid-19 pandemic in the closing months of the year prompted an unprecedented sharpening of focus across our whole operations. At the end of this reporting period, it’s an ongoing process of information processing, strategising and operational planning in dealing with a major threat to the personal wellbeing of our team and the continuation of our business. It will be in our next year’s report that we can fully relate what the effects and outcomes have been for us all. What is clear and true is that in living with covid the world as we may have imagined it will now be significantly, if not irrevocable changed.

The phenomenon of covid has overshadowed, but has not shifted the threatening climate emergency, and future conversations will be concerned with effective responses to each and what the cross learnings can be in terms of public knowledge, understanding and action.  

We acknowledge our responsibility to contribute to the conversation, but more importantly, to a meaningful and positive response. The coming year will potentially  involve working around changing work patterns, client environments and shifts in client priorities, as well as expectations and desires in relation to patterns of social behaviour in the public environment.



The number generated of budgeted revenue compared with 108% in 2018-2019, operating margin 42% above budget AND writeoff 9% compared with 14% in 2018-2019.


15 countries

of origin for our diverse team of 35 male and 35 female staff.


140.38 tonnes

Increase in CO₂ emissions from 125.5 tonnes the previous year.

Maurice Kiely

Director, Sustainability

360° View //  1 of 3





Leadership manifests itself through our work and in the way we operate our business.

As prime motivators in the design process we are called to lead diverse project teams in pursuit of our clients’ dreams. In business, we do this through participation and contribution to industry organisations and broader lobby groups. 

Personal and professional growth is encouraged in our team through leadership development programmes and in-house projects. This environment of opportunity builds resilience within our company and develops a culture of initiative and leadership.


{Tāmaki Makaurau}





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 Sectors

Our primary market sectors are Health, Learning Environments, Residential & Community, Public & Civil, Master Planning & Urban Design, and Commercial & Interiors.


Chow:Hill is a Limited Liability Company owned by nine Shareholders, eight of whom are 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.

Leadership //  2 of 2


Our Business, Our People


Our Business,
Our People

In times of collective urgency — where for example, climate and covid emergencies weigh heavily — the response of business to lead and to work collaboratively in being part of the solution to these is paramount, particularly in a time when the agency of government appears to diminish. We believe it hugely important for our team, and our stakeholders that our business acts with purpose and a clear and demonstrable set of values that show our commitment and contribution to those efforts.

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

Our Business, Our People //  1 of 3

Our Business,
Our People

“Design brings stories to life; Stories bring design to life; Life brings design to stories.”

~ Yves Béhar, developer of the
One Laptop Per Child initiative

Many of our stories relate experiences outside our projects and reflect relationships that enrich the lives of our communities through contribution to learning, build social capital and support cultural development.

Our Values

Our Business, Our People //  2 of 3


Making Connections


Making Connections

One of the strongest motivators for our people is the experience of engaging directly with our clients and project stakeholders and we promote that opportunity at all levels within our business. Creating positive working relationships develops empathy, understanding and enthusiasm, and contributes to more successful and enduring project outcomes.

Our Stakeholders

Thank you for all your amazing work on the Starship Day Stay Unit. I think the impressive results are a testament to the dedication, creativity and collaborative problem-solving from everyone on the project team.

~ Romana Raby // Surgical Nurse Unit Manager // Starship Child Health

Making Connections //  1 of 2

Making Connections

Our essential suppliers include these businesses.

Supply Chain

Making Connections //  2 of 2





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.


Performance in this context refers to actions and outcomes in relation to longer term strategic priorities. This year we maintained focus on seven areas identified from the previous year. These are separate from our operational performance indicators which are reported in our Measurement section.

“Innovative designers shaping authentic places and inspiring people”

Performance //  1 of 2


In our previous report we signalled there were seven areas we wanted to our business to focus on this year.

Knowledge, Culture & Co-design

To undertake a presentation on Co-Design and prepare a capability statement in this area of design practice for sharing with existing and new clients.

Our experiences in developing a live project co-design process were shared with our internal design teams and have begun to be adopted in work with other client groups.

Larger projects involving our working with these client groups —  iwi, tertiary learning and those in the health sector — are increasingly complex with multiple stakeholder partners and the delicacy of inter-relationships between vision, needs, people, process and place, whilst a co-design framework provides guidance but there are no universal solutions and each project offers a unique challenge and an opportunity.

This design process allows a closer relationship with our clients and a resultant depth of understanding, leading to more resolved and authentic solutions, and greater sense of shared ownership of these.

Brand Presence

To enhance company publications, reinforcing key messages related to our vision and purpose. To implement a regular and frequent programme of LinkedIn postings, referenced to website blog items.

Our work with HGB has led to further thinking on our‘ listen design succeed’ message and how this might evolve in bringing us closer our clients. That work is ongoing.

We undertook an investigation into a social media strategy and platforms — Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Linkedin — that provided a good fit for Chow:Hill and concluded that our current use of  Linkedin provided the most user-friendly application, and greater connectivity for us at this time.

We have re-calibrated the style of the writing within our blogs and increased the spread of these across our website and Linkedin. We are also beginning to refresh our project stories on the website.

The number of weekly visitors to our website continues to grow and the demographic profile of these has shifted. The number of connections and followers of Chow:Hill on Linkedin has also grown.

Design, Culture & Place-Making

To use our Place Making framework more explicitly in projects and to continue to make design more visible within our studios.

The tenets within the framework are such that it is used in part by most through shared language, but not as a rigorous and singular tool. Through more regular and consistent design reviews, we are incrementally engaging with a more holistic design approach, but one without uniformity.

The impact of this is subtle rather than ground-breaking. The Place Making framework is not universal and sits alongside a number of other design tools such as Te Aranga Māori Design Principles, Auckland Council Design Manual, the Living Building Challenge, and urban development models such as the Urban Community Quality Wheel. Each has its own focus, each overlaps and each is useful in promoting healthy, meaningful, sustainable, human-scaled places and settings for thriving communities. The impact comes through consistent awareness, adoption and adaption to circumstances for design challenges of all types and scales.

Relationship Building & Trusted Advisors

To complete the design and implementation of a new client relationship management model.

We worked through various issues with our program software but a few factors have prevented functionality to be achieved in the development of a successful client interface.

What this means is that we don’t have a comprehensive and interactive live database of searchable content for our team. It does remain that relationships with clients and other stakeholders on a one-to-one or small group level is managed on an individual basis and shared verbally across the group.

Developing Our People

To maintain our annual Professional Development programme. Focus areas are likely to be technology, collaboration and co-design, which relate to two of our other Priorities.

A new annual CPD programme was prepared and implemented — the programme included technical, design, sharing of project experiences and new knowledge acquired, and leadership modules. This is coupled with off-site and on-line learning promoted by us at a company level. Many are motivated to continue their own learning outside work time. Ongoing Graduate mentoring and targeted in-project experience for those individuals is leading to successful professional registration

Our CPD programme is linked to individual development goals set at twice yearly team member performance appraisals.

An enhanced version of our ‘Starter Pack’ for new team members was launched in the new year and a ‘Welcome Back’ pack landed on everyone’s desks on return from summer holiday.  


A strong CPD programme is an incentive for candidates looking to join our business, provides a pathway for staff to advance their professional careers, maintains for us an optimum level of professional capability built through new knowledge within our disciplines, and builds new capacity where we are exploring new areas of design.

Systems, Simplicity & Technology

To update all Quality Management System documents and consider a single location for access by both Studios. To review our company filing taxonomy. In VR technology, to continue to develop capability and uptake as the software itself continues to develop.

QMS documents have been updated and filed within our existing taxonomy; a review of our taxanomy in its entirety and location on a single shared server has yet to be commenced. VR technology is now available and successfully in use in both Studios.

Migration of project drawing documentation from ArchiCAD to Revit for some project types has commenced and will accelerate over the coming year. The balance between the two systems will evolve over the next few years and we anticipate having a dual capability for the foreseeable future.

Continued work to simplify our systems contributes to increased efficiency, assurance around currency of information and ability to share information. Enhanced use of dual CAD software means we are more adaptable and less at risk from future technology shifts; VR technology adds an enhanced level of creative visualisation more in tune with our client’s needs and expectations.

Business Innovation

To continue with background research whilst remaining open to opportunities as they arise.

We have begun a process of reviewing how best we govern and manage our business in the future.

There is no impact on the business at this time.

Performance //  2 of 2


Our Priorities


Our Priorities

We have two priorities — one self-imposed with a longer time frame and one immediate and imposed on us. Both have an open-endedness and we can’t anticipate what impact each will have, how and to what extent they will influence each other, nor the long-term outcomes.

Covid-19 Emergency

Based on government advice, we will implement an immediate plan to manage our response to working under the Covid-19 situation and vary that response in relation to conditions as they develop.

Governance & Management

We will undertake a review of our governance model, succession plan and operational structure, and plan and implement a way forward from the findings of that exercise.

Priorities //  1 of 1





In this area of our report we disclose data results from a consistent set of performance indicators. This consistency gives us the ability to compare both year to year and longitudinally.

Data Gathering

This is our 11th annual Company Sustainability Report. We give a quick view of our most significant results in our ‘KPI Highlights’ pages following. Whilst data collected on these performance areas provides reliability and consistency, it doesn’t fully capture company performance in broader context. We have committed to capture the way we conduct our business, the impact we have on others, and 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 in our Making Connections and Our Business/Our People sections of this report.

Reporting Framework

This report follows the protocols of the GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) ‘GRI Standards’ introduced in 2011 (previously the GRI ‘G4 Framework’). Under the Standards this report is conforms to ‘Referencing’ the GRI Standards.

The Core Disclosures we report include:

  • 102-1 to 102-13 Organisational Profile
  • 102-14 Strategy
  • 102-16 Ethics and Integrity
  • 102-18 Governance
  • 102-40 to 102-44 Stakeholder Engagement
  • 102-45 to 102-56 Reporting Practice

Disclosures from GRI 103 - Management Approach: 103-1, which corresponds to our Priorities page.

Disclosures from Series 200, 300 and 400 relate to Economic, Environmental and Social Indicators. You can refer to these by clicking on our ‘Download Indicators’ button on the following page.

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 Standards 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”.

Measurement //  1 of 2


Download Indicators here 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

Browse our full results across all KPI’s by clicking each button on the right.

Measurement //  2 of 2


KPI Highlights


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 in our Measurement page.

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.



35 staff members are female and 35 are male and represent 15 countries of origin.

Staff training and development: Expenditure increased by 21% compared to a 65% increase the previous year.


Financial accounts and social investment

Generated 106% of budgeted revenue, compared with 108% in 2018-2019. Operating margin 42% above budget. Productivity write-off 9%, compared to 14% budgeted.


Donations and sponsorship

Expenditure increased by 31%



CO₂ Emissions     
 Total emissions up by 11.8% to 140.38 tonnes.
 Fuel Consumption
    Air Travel contributed to 56% of our emissions, compared to 50.5% in 2018-2019.

KPI Highlights //  1 of 1


CO₂ Footprint


CO₂ Footprint

Our CO₂ emission levels for 2019-2020 were 140.38 tonnes, up 14.88 tonnes, or 11.8% on last year’s total of 125.50. Our Hamilton Studio emissions were up by 5.86 tonnes to 46.41 tonnes; Auckland up by 9.02 tonnes to 93.97 tonnes.

The target for the year was to reduce to a total of 110 tonnes of CO₂.  Actual results confirm instead a very large increase as a result of increased flight and car travel from Auckland and Hamilton.  If you wish to check it out, our KPI page sets out the figures for each studio in more detail.  For the 2020-2021 year we have set a target for emissions of 125 tonnes of CO₂.


Catalyst New Zealand makes 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.

In the coming year we have added to further footprint measures: copy paper consumption (even though a recyclable resource) and overnight business accommodation.


This is our 11th year of tracking our CO₂ emissions and we have illustrated results and trend  in the graph above. In the past year our staff numbers have remained relatively stable at 70 people and our average emissions per person have increased in that year from 1.79 tonnes per person to two tonnes per person.


Chow:Hill supports the Sustainable Business Network’s Million Metres Streams crowd-funded restoration of New Zealand’s waterways in offsetting our emissions. Our funding contribution has enabled the planting of riparian waterways related to projects along the Waitekura Wetland project, Waikato and the Waitekura Wetland project , Auckland. Read more: 

CO₂ Footprint //  1 of 1

Maurice Kiely
Director, Registered Architect
Phone: +64 27 570 8930

Auckland/Tāmaki Makaurau Studio
Level 1, 135 Broadway
PO Box 109169, Newmarket
Auckland 1149
Phone: +64 9 522 6460