Builders and Designers for Climate Justice

It’s abundantly clear that we will not build the power necessary to win unless we embed justice—particularly racial but also gender and economic justice—at the center of our low-carbon policies.
— Naomi Klein

Since President Trump's recent election, many conversations among our colleagues have been focused on how we — as designers and builders and leaders in our industry — can take action. Lots of ideas have been floating around, and many new initiatives are underway, but we weren't able to find any efforts specific to the high performance building industry that both speaks to the issues of climate change, while also focusing on social, economic, gender and racial justice. We believe that green and high performance building should not be done in a vacuum. Reducing energy costs and improving indoor air quality are important, but as an industry we are missing the larger context around climate justice. Whether it is building resilient communities in the face of climate disasters, making energy efficiency more affordable and accessible, or addressing poverty and homelessness — we can do more. 

So for the Better Buildings by Design Conference a few weeks ago in Burlington, Vermont with our colleagues from New Frameworks, we decided to issue a statement and work to get as many construction professionals to sign on as we could. The initiative is called Builders and Designers for Climate Justice. To date we've had over 75 companies sign on and are collecting signatures both digitally and in-person at events across the country.

Nearly 50% of the energy consumed in the U.S. is due to the construction and operation of buildings. As members of the construction industry, we feel a responsibility to commit to working for climate justice through the use of more sustainable materials, construction of healthier, more energy efficient buildings, and the development of resilient communities. The climate crisis is real, and inextricably intertwined with issues of racial and gender justice. Where one is impacted, we all are impacted.

We hereby attest that:
• We firmly oppose the Trump Administration’s denial of climate change.
• We reject the xenophobic proposal for building a wall on the border with Mexico.
• We stand united with our fellow immigrant and refugee workers.
• We will continue to advocate for projects that move us towards climate resilience and build us up instead of tearing us apart!

At the upcoming Building Energy conference in Boston, we'll be collecting more signatures and facilitating a Lunch and Learn session on Thursday from 12:15-1:15 entitled "Advocacy and Activism for Climate Justice" which will provide an opportunity for BE attendees to talk about how they have been working to advocate for climate justice, share resources, and engage in a conversation about how as members of the design and construction industry, we feel a responsibility to commit to working for climate justice through the use of more sustainable materials, construction of healthier, more energy efficient buildings, and the development of resilient communities.

Our goal is to collect as many signatures as we can and issue a public statement on April 29th in coordination with the People's Climate Movement and march on April 29th in Washington, DC. In addition to the public statement, we are distributing action cards to lift up the important work of grassroots organizations who are engaged in working for climate justice and defending the rights of immigrant and refugee communities. We encourage folks to donate their time and resources to the organizations on the front lines of this work.

How can you get involved?

1) Sign on to the statement
2) Follow our Facebook page
3) Volunteer to collect signatures at an upcoming event
4) Connect with local grassroots groups in your community