Organizing Architectural Labor for a Just Transition


A discussion of the possibility for a Just Transition at the nexus of climate, labor, and the built environment.

​As design workers, the building sector’s reliance on the fossil fuel economy affects us every day as we design projects that require material extraction, significant capital investment, and the installation of new energy infrastructure. On top of this, the value of our design work legitimizes capitalist expansion in the built environment. Our agency to change the building sector’s role in social, racial, and environmental violence is limited to our work on individual projects in individual offices. Decades of sustained climate action in the profession have proven that this incremental strategy is bound to fail, because it does nothing to challenge the foundational structure of our relationship to real estate-driven fossil capital.

​Our real power lies in collective action centered on the creation of new ways of working, building, and living. This action must unify design workers, builders, and communities–groups traditionally siloed. The climate has reached a global tipping point, and a transition will happen. A Just Transition is our opportunity to envision what that change will look like, so that it can happen with us instead of to us.

​We are stronger together! To win change in the building industry, we need to organize across the Architecture, Engineering, and Construction divide, with workers in a range of unions. Alone, our power is limited. Together, we have the power to shut the system down and demand immediate, aggressive climate action.

Preparatory Work

We ask participants to consider reading our first Just Transition pamphlet in advance of the session.

Bio

The GND working group formed in 2019 to focus on organizing for ecological justice as it relates to architectural labor, the built environment, and sustainable futures for all. Members of the Working Group reflect many different parts of the architecture, engineering and design industry employed in public, private, and university sectors, ranging from designers and engineers, to educators and researchers. We share a commitment to social and racial justice and a motivation to act urgently in response to the climate crisis. As a working group within the larger Architecture Lobby organization, we do not represent the interests of any single market, industry, or mode of building. We are motivated by the urgency of climate action and committed to long-term collaboration with allied people and groups across policy, practice, and advocacy.

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