Case Study:

Building Green: Equity in Design and Construction: Seven Case Studies


From an affordable multifamily building to an iconic museum, these projects are designed and built to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion.

by Paula Melton
First published in BuildingGreen February 10, 2020

This is part two of a two-part series on equity, diversity, and inclusion in the building industry, focusing on equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) in the design and construction of projects. Part 1, “Re-forming the Building Industry: Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion,” covers EDI among people practicing in the building professions.

Inequity is woven into the fabric of our built environment.


The exterior of the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C., on February 27, 2020, as seen from 15th Street NW – National Museum of African American History and Culture – Creator: Frank Schulenburg Copyright: CC BY-SA 4.0

Cities are endemically segregated by income and race. Many building projects seek to enhance the profits of developers, often at the expense of the surrounding community. The building professions (as detailed in part one of this series) lack diversity, leading to the unconscious but systemic exclusion of underrepresented groups like racial minorities and people with disabilities. All over the world, the most marginalized people are the most vulnerable to global warming—yet our efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change tend to focus on those who can afford these “amenities” for their own tiny corners of the built environment.

The question is, what can building professionals do about it? Perhaps more than you think.

“Our contractual obligation in architecture is to our client,” concedes Alissa Kingsley, associate at Lord Aeck Sargent. “But there is an ethical responsibility that we have, and that is to the greater community.” Built work has an impact on the environment and on the surrounding neighborhood, she adds. “An equitable project is going to be one that supports its community and allows it to thrive.”

This report considers seven projects whose owners and project teams went out of their way to include and elevate the voices of diverse project stakeholders, with the goal of promoting greater equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI).