Session 8: The Future Of Our Culture

Date: May 3, 2019
Location: District Architecture Center, 421 7th Street NW, Washington, DC 20004
Led by: Amber Wirth, AIA, LEED AP BD+C and Charles Thompson
Session Sponsors: District Architecture Center, Lutron
Session Downloads: Session 08 Guide

Session 8, led by Amber Wirth and Charles Thompson questioned what the future holds for the profession by exploring the future of our city, our partnership, and our firm culture. Topics included: equity, diversity and inclusion, transparency, well-being and people and HR opportunities. In small groups, scholars built a consensus of an “ideal culture”. Each scholar reflected on their individual LSI results and the progress that was made throughout the program. This sparked conversations about our development as leaders and how scholars plan to use their CKLDP experience to shape the future of our culture.

Presentation #1 – The Future of Our City: Sustainable DC
The session began with a presentation by Kate Johnson, the Chief of the Green Building and Climate Branch in the Urban Sustainability Administration at the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment. Kate presented a summary of the Sustainable DC 2.0 plan adopted earlier this year and discussed the goals of the plan related to building design, construction and operation. The city has developed two primary policies to enforce the goals of the plan: Clean Energy DC and Climate Ready DC.

Clean Energy DC was described as the “offensive” strategy to reduce green house gas emissions and increase renewable energy supply. The city is on track to adopt code requirements for Net Zero Energy commercial buildings in the next ten years. Existing buildings will be required to adhere to a Building Energy Performance Standard.

Climate Ready DC was described as the “defensive” strategy, recognizing that despite reductions in green house gas emissions, the impacts of climate change will continue to present challenges for the city and residents. Climate Ready DC includes 77 specific actions to upgrade existing buildings and design new projects in an effort to mitigate climate change. DOEE has a Multi-Family Resilience Assessment Tool available to the public online and is working on developing resilient design guidelines.
Photo of Presentation #1 - The Future of Our City: Sustainable DC

Presentation #2 – The Future of Partnerships and Process Panel Discussion: Our Client’s, Consultant’s and Contractor’s Perspective
The second portion of the day’s programming began with presentations from a panel composed of Jessica Long, Sara Lappano, and Colin Regan. Each panelists illustrated their take on what’s ahead in the future of the built environment when working alongside developers, consultants and contractors.

Jessica Long, Director of Sustainability at JBG Smith, gave a presentation that explained the extensive JBG portfolio of properties and how climate change is now a factor in managing risk to its investors. Their DC portfolio has been evolving by acquiring and developing properties that are more transit oriented and are upheld to green certifications. Afterwards she focused on Environmental Social Governance or ESG. This involved working with the industry and governments to set standards to facilitate sustainable development which in turn would have the financial backing of investors through institutional funds. She concluded by talking about GRESB, a Real Estate Environmental rating system that rates public companies on their sustainable practices.

Following Jessica Long, Sara Lappano an engineer and managing principal of Integral Group spoke of looking at the future collaboration as a spectrum that ranges from the big picture involving policy development and scientific research and to the end solution of achieving lofty green goals in buildings. On the policy side, she talked about collaborating with cities to lobby policies that would make an impact in further development. On the research side, she discussed studying net zero buildings facilitated via grants and using institutional level quantification to provide strong conclusive analytics. These design metrics would assist in aligning owner goals and expectations to provide the financial backing needed to execute environmentally efficient sustainable development.

The third panelist and a project manager with Whiting Turner, Colin Regan gave the contractor’s perspective on high performance development. Colin discussed a recently completed site net zero project as precedent, the United Therapeutics Unisphere building in Silver Spring, MD. This project involved lobbying to modify the code in Montgomery County to allow a geothermal mechanical system within the site that was previously not allowed. Colin spoke about risk mitigation and the necessity for a contingency plan when developing net zero buildings because of the complexity of the required mechanical systems. These systems are part of a volatile industry that is constantly evolving with new technologies, requiring data collection and analysis to help establish a case for future legislation.
Photo of Presentation #2 – The Future of Partnerships and Process Panel Discussion: Our Client’s, Consultant’s and Contractor’s Perspective

Presentation #3 – The Future of Our Culture Panel Discussion: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion/Transparency/Well-Being
For the third portion of the session, three presenters shared their expertise on the topics of Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Transparency and Wellbeing.

Marcia (MJ) Calloway, Director of Equity Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) for the American Institute of Architects, shared data about AIA membership (72% male and 67% white) and the ways that the AIA is working to improve EDI in the profession. Their current efforts include: measuring and reporting demographic data of AIA membership and staff, creating EDI training courses available online, and ensuring AIA uses their own photography rather than stock photos in all publications. AIA is also working with K-12 and higher education programs to ensure a more equitable, diverse and inclusive future for the profession. MJ reminded the scholars that “this is a journey, not a race!”

Sandra Leibowitz, Managing Principal of Sustainable Design Consulting, LLC, shared her companies experience with the International Living Future Institute’s JUST Program. The social justice transparency program requires participants to disclose information about their business in several categories. Sustainable Design Consulting is about to start the documentation and disclosure process for their first renewal (required every two years). Sandra shared some of the ways the company has been challenged to improve JUST operations upon receiving the results of the initial submission s they look forward to seeing improved results with the renewal.

The third panelist, Lida Lewis, is a member of the WELL Faculty and a passionate designer and thought leader currently working with Wingate Hughes. Lida’s experience as an interior architect has increased her passion for considering people first in design. Harmful chemicals and conditions persist in building design, construction and operation. There is a lot of potential for transitioning to a “net positive” scenario where buildings improve rather than endanger occupant health. Lida described people as “very expensive equipment” and shared the business case for occupant health.

The three presenters encouraged scholars that the best strategy for improving EDI, transparency and well-being in our designs and our industry is to start where you are. Set metrics for improvement and document your progress as you go.
Photo of Presentation #3 - The Future of Our Culture Panel Discussion: Equity, Diversity and Inclusion/Transparency/Well-Being

Presentation #4 – The Future of our People: A Global HR Perspective and Opportunities for Impact
After an informative panel discussions, Enrique Rubio, a human resources professional and founder of Hacking HR, presented a new perspective on looking beyond the traditional way of developing human resources within one’s firm. He categorized human resources in two ways: the transactional part of HR that requires obtaining intellectual capital for talent acquisition and the retention aspect of HR. To retain employees, firm’s need a more engaging work environment centered around their culture that focuses on delivering value to the employee. This value ranges from continuing education, providing growth opportunities, flexibility in the workplace as well as varying levels of transparency. Management’s awareness of the benefits of the second category will help to achieve a positive employee experience and create a win-win situation for the firm.
Photo of Presentation #4 – The Future of our People: A Global HR Perspective and Opportunities for Impact

Presentation #5 – Designing Your Future: Look Back at LSI
Cable Clarke, CEO of Clarke Consulting returned to remind scholars of the ways that leadership and culture are intertwined in an organization to generate performance. The scholars worked in small groups and were aasked to come to a consensus on a series of prompts which were compiled into a circumplex mapping of the CKLDP class’s “ideal culture”. No surprise, the CKLDP “ideal culture” was very similar to the “ideal culture” of the general population survey and the survey’s of many distinct organizations and nationalities. Each scholar received the results of his/her second Life Styles Inventory and was able to compare the results to the survey’s taken last September. The LSI is a tool for decreasing defensive styles and increasing constructive styles to change behavior, not personality, by changing the way we think.
Photo of Presentation #5 – Designing Your Future: Look Back at LSI

Reflections on CKLDP
Who are you? What have you learned?

As a closing activity to reflect our year together, the session presenters reviewed the bootcamp PechaKucha slides and had the group guess which scholar the slides represented. Then each scholar presented three new slides about lessons learned and the CKLDP experience.

“We learned a little about a lot of different things…I would describe this experience as epic.” – Katie

“This is just the beginning and the future is bright!” – Frank

“We already have the wings to fly.” – Amber

“If you come to a fork in the road, choose whatever path you want.” – Charles

Each scholar had the opportunity to sign the “yearbook” with a message to their fellow scholars about what they learned from CKLDP.
Photo of signed “yearbook” with a message to their fellow scholars about what they learned from CKLDP

And then we partied! The closing reception was a celebration of growth, achievements and the great relationships developed throughout the program.

Class Photo 1

Class Photo 2