One Planet Living Framework

One Planet Living is about enjoying a high quality of life within our fair share of the earth's resources. If everyone in the world consumed as many natural resources as the average person in the UK we’d need three planets to support us. If we all lived the average American lifestyle, we’d need five planets to support us.

One Planet Living is a model based on ten simple principles which provide a framework to make sustainable living easy and affordable for all. Organisations all over the world are using the tried and tested One Planet Living model to reduce their environmental impacts and demonstrate their commitment to sustainability. With ten guiding principles One Planet Living is comprehensive and flexible, allowing organisations to develop their own solutions to the sustainability challenges that they face. The very best organisations have committed to challenging targets and have an endorsed One Plant Action Plan and hundreds of other organisations are using the One Planet Living model in their own way.

Go to resource

Bioregional, assessment, One Planet Living

(0)Report a broken link


Please Log In or Sign Up to rate this resource or make a comment.

Friday, 1st November 2013

Grant Findlay, Sir Robert McAlpine

We are wholly supportive of the framework and agree on the broad coverage and the way it makes you think about aspects/themes that may get forgotten about. We have experience of using the framework as a means of linking actions and behaviours at home to those in a business environment, making sustainability personal and not just corporate, nor indeed something that is too big to be able to influence as an individual.

We note that there are many others out there (including our company!) who have sustainability/CSR agendas, strategies, models etc. all presented in different ways but ultimately all absolutely aligned to the same objective. Wouldn't it be good if, as has happened to some extent in the world of health and safety, we all decided to use a common language e.g. OPL to express our collective intentions. I suspect we may all be differentiating ourselves by saying the same thing in different ways, whereas alignment would mean our differentiation would be by performing better against industry data.

Benchmarks/measures against the framework - we are not sure that would be beneficial, and fear it would drive the OPL framework to be a tick box exercise defeating the original aim and purpose. Would an OPL 'badge' against an individual company strategy/plan/model be a way of (i) raising profile & (ii) aligning individual actions.

The word 'sustainability' is overused so how do we keep it fresh and people interested in what it actually means? With H&S, the risks and benefits are immediate and personal but with sustainability it is perceived to be about the future and less personal (certainly to us in the western world). What would others feel about using terms other than 'sustainable' in the elements of the framework...and what might they be?


Friday, 1st November 2013

Robert Lambe, Willmott Dixon

The framework is easy to understand, comprehensive yet flexible. The development and evolution of our business SD strategy has been guided by the principles of the Framework which ensures a holistic view is taken whilst allowing the application of each principle to be relevant to the organisation/project.

The fact that OPL is not a ‘black box’ method of rating is very positive, the downside is that it does not therefore provide any benchmark of performance which may be a reason why it has not been more widely adopted. The relevance placed on the OPL Framework across the sector is less than that of more formal rating tools, such as BREEAM or Code for Sustainable Homes, which may be substantially due to endorsement/requirement of public sector clients to adopt.

We have worked with the team at Bioregional to develop a tailored application of the OPL Framework for domestic retrofit works which has been well received by Local Authority clients, we are yet to see the importance placed on this to individual home owners/occupiers.


Friday, 1st November 2013

Simon McWhirter, HAB Housing

As Campaign Manager at WWF when OPL was in concept stages, I managed elements of the initial public rollout - the OPL book, OPL film and public OPL events with Grand Designs, etc.

It was utterly invaluable as a tool to begin to communicate - in simple fashion - the linkages between our consumption patterns, and wider environmental impacts. As a opener to the SCP dialogue it was effective; a dialogue which at the time was only beginning to be in the ascendancy.

Now as a developer, with Hab Housing, we use it for both external purposes - to communicate the considered sustainability approach we take to development - and internal to sense check project decisions. We only use it as a tool to underlie a sustainability mindset, and don't go as far as others in terms of formal OPL Plans.

At the beginning of every one of our development projects, we formulate a project document which espouses OPL as our core, guiding sustainability tool - and its communications' potential continues strongly (as it did with public and government audiences in the early days), with local authority and other development partners.

It is versatile unlike many formal rating tools, and that is of real appeal. The tick box approach to some methodologies - e.g. Code for Sustainable Homes - isn't such a problem with OPL (in the way we utilise it), and we think of it like a set of DJ's decks whereby one can dial up the volume on some principles versus others, depending on the project / site relevance to each.


Friday, 1st November 2013

Nigel Sagar, Skanska

The 10 Principles are easily understood and can be used to define, implement and follow-up on clear sustainability aspirations. It is a framework that it not too prescriptive, can be adapted to local conditions and can be applied to existing and new communities as well as individual companies.

Not all the Principles need to be adopted at the same time, they can be used one by one to develop the journey. This is especially relevant to people / organisations who are not familiar with the environmental and wider sustainability agenda and may be overawed by using all ten at the same time. We all have different timescales that we are working to on this subject and phased adoption of the Principles helps with this.

The guidance documents and templates on the One Planet Living website are clear and useful but perhaps the phased approach could be emphasised more.

We would encourage organisations to consider following the principles and setting plans in each to improve as this delivers an easily understood framework for the organisation to develop sustainably. The work does not need to be endorsed by Bioregional, merely thinking about wider issues will engage staff and identify an organisations strengths and weaknesses leading to improvement.

Skanska’s Color Palette, employee engagement programmes and Corporate Community Involvement strategy fit neatly alongside the Principles. Where we identified gaps, groups have been set up to define how we can develop in these areas.

Using the tool at the early stages of a new development is also a strength eg when the “development plan” is not yet fixed. The process allows for a more structured role for other stakeholders in the “planning process” such as developers, contractors, utilities, community, facility management, etc, which may benefit all project stakeholders.

As such cities may be the main beneficiaries and engagement with cities through ICLEI or similar organizations could be an area to investigate.

However, using the Principles on a development will be subject to all parties following on from the initial commitment ie planners to designers to builders to landlords to occupiers.


Friday, 1st November 2013

Ronan Leyden, Bioregional

OPL is not a rating tool; but is complementary to them.

At BioRegional, we use the OPL framework and targets to collate together the rating tools used on a project or in an organisation (e.g. Considerate Constructors, BREEAM, NET Waste, Investor in People). This process helps to highlight the areas that are not being addressed. The framework acts as a comprehensive way in which to understand and communicate disparate sustainability initiatives, regulations and rating tools. It gives an answer to questions: ‘why are we doing this’ and ‘what are we trying to achieve’. So OPL is not a rating tool itself, but rather a way of selecting which rating tool(s) to use and why.

There are levels that OPL framework is currently being used. Firstly the principles can be used initially as a tool to co-create a sustainability strategy. The second level of engagement is to then go on to commit to deliver on OPL targets (Common International Targets) and to monitor and report against these on an ongoing basis.

Projects that have done this use training to ensure that the OPL thinking is embedded across all levels of management and into the supply chain. This, along with regular monitoring reviews, and the public declaration of targets, can help to guard against the slippage and loss of momentum.

E.g. One Brighton (172 apartments in Brighton) had over 1300 staff were inducted across design, construction, legal, sales and marketing functions, as well as resident training and green caretaker on-site.

Endorsement, which enables projects to carry the brand, is one of the mechanisms for ensuring that targets are met.

By appointing Sustainability Champions, the process can bring enthusiasm and added value to an organisation. OPL is about embedding sustainability into organisational or project thinking, and thereby allowing its users to shape it to their own context. This flexibility and adaptability can appear at odds with the more prescriptive requirements set out by most rating tools, but in our experience actually happily sits with them, acting as an overarching framework.

The OPL framework can also be used independently, and we encourage this by providing supporting materials, however, we cannot assure the quality of the response to the Common International Targets, and so we are unable to allow such uses to carry the ‘Planet with a heart’ logo and OPL brand. In this way we can differentiate the two levels of usage, whilst also broadening access to the framework.

The One Planet Living model for sustainability is based on developing a new trust model ‘peer review’ effect, whereby projects/organisations make public declarations of their sustainability commitments through a published One Planet Action Plan (OPAP). Though this level of transparency, we can encourage a global conversation on how to solve these difficult challenges.


Friday, 1st November 2013

John Wright, Stride Treglown

Compared to other environmental systems the One Planet Living framework is highly accessible and easily adaptable to how we work at Stride Treglown. It offers an all-encompassing approach to sustainability, from looking at how to reduce our carbon footprint to improving health and happiness.

The ten principles are a strong framework around which to base policies and action, and they do remind you that you need to do some of the more difficult things, not just the simple obvious stuff.

The Action Plan template helped us set priorities and targets and we tested these against whether they are the most cost effective for the business. Using this we have developed detailed actions in all areas.

One unforeseen outcome of adopting OPL has been that this is a good social activity and talking point. e.g. a group of staff worked together to create allotments in an under used part of our garden. We have sustainability champions across the company who meet (virtually) to discuss how projects are being implemented in each office, and float ideas for future initiatives.

Most of the actions we have taken have either had fairly low cost, worth the cost in terms of the ‘feel good factor’ they create, or have had good commercial payback periods – replacing windows, adding insulation, replacing lighting. This all helps to reinforce that we do care about the environment, but we also care about the business and the people who work in it, and to whom we have a responsibility.


Friday, 1st November 2013

Chris Twinn, Arup

It is an excellent framework to getting discussions going on how sustainability bridges social/economic/environmental issues. There then has to be total buy-in from the client to the underlying principles. It then has the potential to change almost everything for the better about getting a project delivered. This is often too much for most clients and hence it is only those who want to change, can influence their supply chains / stakeholders (inc building occupants) sufficiently and who can adjust their economic drivers, who wholeheartedly take it on.

For one major project I worked on, the OPL principles were simply not trickled down to the teams working on the project. There was a dilution of the headline aspiration by elements of management who had not bought-in. Headline contracts (and subsequent back-to-back contracts) tended not to nail down what exactly what was different from normal that was expected of all parties.

Unsurprisingly, one of the major challenges is that the costs for delivering it at the detailed levels are undefined at the point where commitments to the Action Plan are made. From my experience this is why most clients back out. Unlike established rating tools, there is no growing database of actual implementation costs – or the evidence of falling costs as the innovation starts to become familiar practice.

There are also very many countries around the world for whom securing a beneficial label is paramount, but is driven by underlying cultural instincts or immaturity to do the minimum necessary to deliver it! What is in effect largely self-policing simply does not work in these situations.

I also feel that the idea of One Planet Living, and hence living within the finite carrying capacity of the planet, needs updating among the Ten Principles. More recent thinking on planetary limits means there is now a far clearer idea of what a reasonable share of resources per person would be. Perhaps the Action Plan needs to evolve to focus on far more specific roadmaps (with due regard to the economics) showing how the project can evolve within a finite time to become within planetary limits.


Friday, 1st November 2013

David Clark, Cundall

Cundall already use the One Planet Living framework and have been endorsed by BioRegional as a One Planet Company.

I like the 10 principles. They are simple to understand and provide flexibility. Its not a rating tool and allows each organisation or project to set targets and actions based on the key principles. Some are easy to define (e.g. annual energy targets) whereas others need a bit more creativity (e.g. setting a sustainable food target for a consulting engineers office).

We produced a sustainability roadmap which summarises the targets we’ve set for 2015 and 2025 - They can be quite challenging such as zero carbon offices by 2025 (we rent all of our offices) but setting a target gives us a goal to aim for.

The action plan we have developed includes more detailed actions. We use the 10 principles to guide the actions for the green teams in each of our offices. Gathering data to report against the targets is still a challenge – it would be great if landlords would provide consumption data when they take the service charge payments. Our biggest challenge however is tracking our business travel due to the myriad of ways this is booked by individuals.

I would recommend applying the OPL principles to any organisation or project – they make you think about stuff outside of the normal rating tools but without the hassle of being prescriptive. Getting formal endorsement by BioRegional is a further step but is not mandatory. The benefit we found by doing this is having an independent review and someone to push you to go further.




(5) Resources

Bioregional is an entrepreneurial charity which initiates practical sustainability solutions, and delivers them by setting up new enterprises and partnerships around the world. Read more

Our Sponsors

Ecobuild   Marks and Spencer Mitsubishi Electrica Wates foundation