How architects deliver more impactful architecture and urban design

The Accelerating Action tool is the easy way to quickly assess, improve and then communicate the sustainability of your actions (from policies and projects to briefs and bid applications) in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Accelerating Action’s Co-Founder Tom Lindsay spoke with Kristina Knauf, Associate of MVRDV’s Climate Group to learn more about why MVRDV chose to champion the SDGs and why they decided Accelerating Action tool was the best way to help them deliver more impactful projects.

First of all, who are MVRDV? 

Kristina: MVRDV is an internationally-renowned architectural and urban design firm providing remarkable solutions to contemporary architectural and urban challenges across the world.

We’re highly collaborative and our research-based design method involves clients, stakeholders, and experts from a wide range of fields from early on in the creative process. 

Why support the SDGs?

Kristina: Our aim is to create more sustainable built and natural environments. As our reach is global and as broad in terms of impact as the SDGs themselves, it seemed like the perfect framework to align our work to.

Aligning work across the countries and regions we work in also allows us to sharpen our focus while at the same time knowing we are contributing to an internationally-agreed set of global goals for a more sustainable future.

As our methods involve many different stakeholders the SDG are also a great commonly-shared language that is understood across sectors and countries.

“ In our work we strive to make a positive contribution to the world and the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. The Accelerating Action Tool is an invaluable part of our methodology, which we apply during various phases of our design process. It helps us validate, sharpen, and monitor our project-specific ambitions and targets, allowing us to create sustainable buildings and urban environments that make a meaningful contribution to both the targets of the UN and, ultimately, a better world.”  — Kristina Knauf, Associate of MVRDV’s Climate Group.

What made you choose Accelerating Action?

Kristina: MVRDV has set out to champion three of the 17 SDGs: namely SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities, SDG 12 Responsible Consumption and Production and SDG 13 Climate Action. Additionally, project-specific SDGs can be identified.

Our first trial of the Accelerating Action tool showed us its value.

It showed us we were just scratching the surface. In using the tool for only 30 minutes the tool’s outputs showed us not only that we were contributing to a far larger number of SDGs than originally thought but was also able to point us to which of the 169 SDG Targets we were contributing to specifically

We saw that by using the tool to assess our projects we could communicate not only which of the 17 Global Goals we were helping to achieve but also the specific underlying SDG Targets.

This was a level of detail that could arm our teams with the confidence to understand more accurately what sustainable impact our architecture and urban design was having on people and the planet. If we hadn’t used the tool we wouldn’t have identified this additional value.

Communicating Impact: the original assessment conducted of some of MVRDV’s key projects shows, in addition to the three SDGs already championed by the firm, that their projects were potentially contributing to three other SDGs. More than this, the Accelerating Action tool could also point to which SDG Targets were most relevant, a level of detail at a speed that most tools can’t achieve.

Crucially, the tool and training gave us the results we needed almost immediately. It took minutes rather than the hours or even days that it would have taken to achieve a similar level of accuracy. This is really important for us as our projects are fast-paced and we need tools that can fit seamlessly into our processes and timelines.

MVRDV’s histogram using the Accelerating Action tool’s results.

Comparing notes: MVRDV are taking a novel approach to using the tool. They ask all team memberss on a project, including even the client, to assess the potential impact of the project. These assessments are then compared to see where there is alignment, differences and/or gaps. The project team and client then together decide which SDGs they want to prioritise and deliver. Shared understanding and agreement like this makes it even more likely that the project delivers the intended sustainable impacts.

A tool for architects to communicate and accelerate action

If you want to know how the Accelerating Action tool can help you embed and deliver environmental, economic, social and political impact quickly and effectively then why not reach out to us?

You can contact our Co-Founder Tom Lindsay for a short call and demo to see if it’s right for you by reaching out to him via