by Kate Simonen
Founding Director of the Carbon Leadership Forum
We’re living through an extraordinary moment in human history, as though the 1918 flu epidemic, the 1929 market crash, and the 1963 March on Washington during the civil rights era were to occur simultaneously, but in the context of the global existential crisis of climate change. It’s worth asking how recent events — including the COVID shutdown, the public murder of George Floyd, and global protests against that murder — have influenced our awareness of the structures of power and privilege in which we live.
The disastrous impacts of climate change are already felt most deeply by poor and marginalized communities of color around the world. This means climate change is fundamentally an issue of social and racial justice. The construction industry historically has perpetuated inequality, racial discrimination, lack of opportunity for people of color as well as insensitivity to the impact of manufacturing, development, urban design, and construction on communities of color. But companies and organizations across the industry are beginning to embrace change, inspired by initiatives such as the NAACP’s Centering Equity in the Sustainable Building Sector.
Many of us are indeed becoming painfully more aware of our roles in supporting structural inequality, and we live in a moment of exceptional emotional rawness. But what matters most is not how we feel but what we will do.
Beginning in late spring, 2019, we engaged in a months-long process to re-imagine ourselves as an organization and a network. We interviewed scores of CLF members to help us articulate our vision, mission, and values more clearly and powerfully, and to use those new insights to guide our work.
- Our Vision: A transformed, decarbonized building industry – better buildings for a better planet.
- Our Mission: Eliminate embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructure by inspiring innovation and spurring change through collective action.
- Our Values: Determination, Empowerment, Integrity, Transparency, Inclusion, Collective Action.
In this extraordinary summer of 2020, we are beginning to understand what the words of our Vision Statement imply. Eliminating carbon emissions in building materials and construction is merely part of our larger work to create a just, equitable, thriving, sustainable human community that works for all.
We at the Carbon Leadership Forum commit to listen, learn and evolve in order to do our part to build connections and community in order to redesign social structures and examine assumptions that have enabled both racial oppression and carbon pollution. We look forward to working with you to expand the Carbon Leadership Forum’s capacity to support holistic solutions that enable social justice, equity and decarbonization.
Our most valuable assets are our imaginations, our networks, our relationships and collaborations. Working together, we can accelerate and magnify our impact. As friends, allies and partners, we can transform our world.