Let’s design a more humane future.

The Design for Freedom movement brings industry leaders together to eliminate forced labor in building materials supply chains, create true market transformation, and build a more equitable future.

Learn more about the movement in this video, Reimagining Architecture | Design for Freedom 2022".

The Design for Freedom Toolkit offers comprehensive resources for design and construction professionals to help implement ethical material sourcing strategies into their own practices.

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sector data

Size up the situation

$12 trillion
construction is the #1 industrial sector at risk of forced labor

The construction ecosystem accounts for more than 13% of global GDP and $12 trillion spending worldwide. The construction sector is one of the most disaggregated and least modernized sectors, at 1% productivity.

12+
building materials at risk of forced labor

The complexity and the sheer number of unique raw and composite materials per building make it nearly impossible to purchase slave-free materials. But a growing list of risky raw and composite materials, as well as global “hot spots,” can provide direction to help make ethical decisions.

75%
of construction firms have no payroll

Systemic change within the construction sector is difficult because of its very nature. In the U.S. alone, 75% of construction firms are owned and operated by one individual with no payroll, working either as freelance contractors or reliant on subcontractors for additional labor. The layers of subcontractors and middlemen along the supply chain adds to the opacity. But the use of big data and other innovative technology can drive slave-free building.

Take action

We are mobilizing the full ecosystem of architectural, engineering, and construction professionals to build a forced labor-free future.
<p>Design for Freedom Toolkit</p>

DOWNLOAD THE TOOLKIT

Design for Freedom Toolkit

A comprehensive resource to help implement ethical, forced labor-free material sourcing strategies. The toolkit contains information on materials that are most at-risk of forced labor, as well as relevant certifications and standards that support ethical materials choices, a supplier questionnaire, and sample specifications.

the movement

Impact

Design for Freedom reimagines architecture by raising awareness and inspiring responses to disrupt forced labor in the building materials supply chain. The Design for Freedom Working Group, comprised of more than 80 industry leaders and experts in the built environment, is raising global awareness about the hidden humanitarian crisis through pilot projects, the media, symposiums, and partnerships with leading universities. Hundreds of pro-bono hours have been donated by these global leaders to elevate the movement and accelerate much-needed awareness about forced labor in the built environment.

Testimonials

Industry leaders apply their expertise with an ethical lens to illuminate and end forced labor

“Over the past few decades, substantive strides have been compounding to sustainably design and construct with less harm to nature; yet there is a startling blind spot in terms of the entropic brutality forced upon the workers who are critical to the production of the very materials we source. Their suffering should not be built into our construction.”

Sharon Prince
CEO and Founder, Grace Farms Foundation
Sharon Prince

“Much like our natural environment, we cannot excuse ourselves from acting, and will have to make more targeted efforts to ban unethical materials from our industry.
One can imagine adding these conditions when we write our specifications. A change in culture will require continuous efforts.”

Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg
Founding Partners, SO – IL
Jing Liu and Florian Idenburg

“As lighting designers and building engineers, we specify an array of complex technical devices. For a given project, the component parts easily sum to the thousands. Each part touches many hands from material extraction to on-site products. Our Grace Farms team shed light on human rights abuses through the construction materials procurement process. It is incumbent upon the design and construction community to demand transparency and reject these practices. Further, the scale of our industry demands the creation of a system that qualifies ethically sourced materials, thereby ensuring the health and wellbeing of all people contributing to our built environment. We will deliver.”

Gabe Guilliams
Principal, Lighting Specialist, Buro Happold Engineering
Gabe Guilliams

“Regardless of delivery method and contractual scheme, every member of the team — design professionals, construction managers, contractors, owner’s representatives, and design-builders — should promise to abide by the law in the performance of their duties.”

Leslie P. King, Esq.
Shareholder, Construction Law, Carlton Fields
Leslie P. King, Esq.

“The indisputable evil of enslavement makes it difficult to understand as a contemporary problem, rather than “comfortably” understanding it as a terrible relic of the past. We must resist that temptation; eradicating forced labor will require maintaining a concerted and focused effort.”

Hayes Slade, AIA, IIDA
Co-Founder and Principal, Slade Architecture | 2019 President, AIA NY
Hayes Slade, AIA, IIDA

“The investment sector cannot end slavery alone. Nor, however, will slavery end without the active engagement of the sector, as the world’s investors, insurers, and financial partners have unparalleled influence over global business and entrepreneurialism. The investment community has a unique role to play by investing in and fostering business practices that help to end modern slavery and human trafficking.”

Fiona Reynolds
CEO, Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) | Chair, Financial Services Commission into Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking (The Liechtenstein Initiative)
Fiona Reynolds

“Where most every industry that touches our lives has evolved significantly, in some cases unrecognizably, since the 1950s, the building industry has not. Buildings remain largely non-reproducible assemblies composed of discrete elements, and where data technologies are deployed in their creation they are often not optimized.”

Christopher Sharples, AIA
Principal, SHoP Architects
Christopher Sharples, AIA

“Today, we need to shift industry consciousness and focus on where materials are sourced, whom is sourcing, and how. In this way, we can connect the dots between environmental injustice (and the associated inequalities) to unethical sourcing.”

Claire Weisz, FAIA
Principal-in-Charge, WXY architecture + urban design
Claire Weisz, FAIA

“Everyone deserves good design – design that is beautiful and just. It is essential to delivering human rights, services, and spaces that will build a better world.”

Christian Benimana
Senior Principal, MASS Design Group
Christian Benimana

“Workers are still not represented in emerging IPDs as part of the project team. Similarly, workers are not represented on teams across industries in the supply chain, beyond the construction site, including manufacturing facilities and architecture offices, to name a few.”

Kadambari Baxi
Barnard College, Professor of Professional Practice in Architecture, Co-Founder WBYA-Who Builds Your Architecture?
Kadambari Baxi

“I believe it is our moral obligation to correct the unfair circumstances of forced labor, and to reframe the conversation about the honest costs of building materials.”

Victoria Cabanos
Managing Principal and CEO of Stuart-Lynn Company
Victoria Cabanos
01/08

Join the movement

Stay informed about our collective work to galvanize a movement to eradicate modern slavery from the built environment.

Advocacy looks good on you!

In partnership with Herman Miller and Design Within Reach, this ethically manufactured mask shows your support to end the use of slave labor in the built environment.

About Design for Freedom and Grace Farms Foundation

Design for Freedom reimagines architecture by raising awareness and inspiring responses to disrupt forced labor in the building materials supply chain. Grace Farms Foundation’s interdisciplinary humanitarian mission is to pursue peace through nature, arts, justice, community, faith, and Design for Freedom – and at Grace Farms, a SANAA designed site for convening people across sectors.