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Preparing for a Resilient Future Through Climate Action

As unprecedented droughts, floods, freezes, and fires threaten the lives and livelihoods of people across the globe, Gensler’s latest research finds some 87% of adults in the United States have been personally impacted by extreme weather events since 2019. At the same time, only 18% of Americans believe their communities are built to withstand climate change.

The disconnect between these startling percentages reveals a profound opportunity for leaders in the real estate and building sectors, given that buildings are responsible for some 40% of total global carbon emissions. We know that to bring about a more resilient future, we must act now. But where to begin?

The Gensler Research Institute surveyed 1,800+ adults in United States to understand how climate change is impacting individuals, and what can be done to prepare for the uncertainties of tomorrow. Our findings, recently published in the Gensler U.S. Climate Action Survey 2022, present bold, coordinated steps to proactively address both climate change mitigation and adaptation.

Two immediate actions are clear: first, we must aggressively pursue strategies that minimize the amount of new carbon emitted into the atmosphere by buildings and cities. And second, we must incorporate adaptation strategies into every project, so that the spaces and places we design respond to the current and future stresses of climate change.

This dual approach recognizes that climate change and resilience are interconnected issues affecting our environment, our economy, and our society. In order to make meaningful progress, we look at preparedness through four related but distinct lenses:

1. Environmental preparedness: Minimizing carbon emissions while also investing in natural capital and ecosystem preservation and restoration.

2. Economic preparedness: Planning for issues of business continuity, efficiency and value creation, and adaptation to extend the service life of a project.

3. Experiential preparedness: Taking action that improves quality of life and human health, well-being, and connection.

4. Equitable preparedness: Ensuring that our actions create greater equity by prioritizing the needs and challenges of our most marginalized communities.

Our opportunity — in collaboration with our clients and partners — is to help communities ready themselves for the impacts of our changing climate through design resilience strategies. Carbon mitigation is a key first step, but to truly move the needle we must also consider the business, social, and lifestyle ramifications of the actions we take. By preparing today, we can bring about a better tomorrow.

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Andy Cohen

Andy is co-CEO of Gensler, the world’s most influential architecture and design firm. Since 2005, he and Co-CEO Diane Hoskins have exemplified collaborative leadership, overseeing both the long-term strategy and day-to-day operations of the global practice known for its award-winning design innovation and research. Under their guidance, Gensler has organically grown to become the largest and most admired firm in the field, with some 6,000 people networked across 53 offices around the world, serving more than 3,500 clients in over 100 countries. A registered architect in 41 states and 3 Canadian provinces, Andy is a champion of the power of design to enhance and enrich the human experience. In 2021, he was named to Business Insider’s list of “100 People Transforming Business.”

Diane Hoskins

Diane is one of two co-CEOs of Gensler. For her innovative leadership, Diane, along with Co-CEO Andy Cohen, ranks on Business Insider’s elite “Creators” list, a who’s who of the world’s 100 top creative visionaries. As a hands-on leader, Diane oversees Gensler’s global platform and its day-to-day operations, with 6,000+ people networked across 53 offices, serving more than 3,500 clients in over 100 countries. Diane is focused on Gensler’s global talent strategies, performance, and organizational development to ensure that we serve our clients with the world’s top talent.