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Design for Freedom Report
“The Design for Freedom Report is essential reading for everyone involved in the design and construction industry.” — Benjamin Prosky, Executive Director, AIA New York Chapter | Center for Architecture
The Design for Freedom Working Group has brought together industry leaders and experts in the built environment to eliminate modern slavery in the building materials supply chain. Through the media, symposiums, and partnerships with leading universities, the Working Group is raising global awareness about the hidden humanitarian crisis. Hundreds of pro-bono hours have been donated by these global leaders, as well as from experts from a leading design and marketing company. This institutional movement is elevating and accelerating much-needed awareness about forced labor in the built environment.
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.”
“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.”
“Today’s designers leverage BIM information for more proximate concerns like construction cost, energy usage, and code conformance through additional analytical engines that intelligently query and evaluate the simulated building. What if those more technical queries could be extended to questions of the ethical provenance—or lack thereof—of the architect’s or engineer’s decision?”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“It has taken several decades for the sustainability movement to become relatively mainstream in the design community. During that time, we have been able to establish reliable, substantiated claims about products being “green” and what green characteristics apply. I expect that the slave-free aspect can be accomplished somewhat more rapidly now that there is a similar model to follow.”
“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.”
“At Paratus, we are confident that clients — individuals and corporations, universities and foundations — will all embrace this ethical goal, and we are ready to stand with them to exercise control and compliance throughout a complicated chain of ownership.”
“Owners, architects, engineers, and builders have consistently used advances in technology as an accelerant to fire up new ideas, new directions, and new purpose. When those advances both re-invigorate design and return value to an owner, entire architectural movements emerge.”
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About Grace Farms Foundation
Grace Farms Foundation’s interdisciplinary humanitarian mission is to pursue peace through five initiatives—nature, arts, justice, community, and faith—and Grace Farms, a SANAA-designed site for convening people across sectors. Our stake in the ground is to end modern slavery and gender-based violence, and create more grace and peace in our local and global communities.