How is Decarbonization Changing Architecture and Design?

April 21, 2023|29 Minutes
TK Elevator North America Regional Business Support Center
TK Elevator North America Regional Business Support Center, Atlanta, Georgia is the tallest elevator test tower in the United States. It connects sustainable design, engineering acumen, and storytelling.

Tackling climate change requires urgent action across all industries. In the built environment, decarbonization is a critical step towards reducing emissions from materials, construction, and building operations.

On this episode of the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, Gensler’s sustainability leaders, Rives Taylor, Katie Mesia, and Abby Young, explore decarbonization in the built environment and share insights from their experiences working on diverse projects. They define key carbon-related concepts and detail resilience strategies implemented in case studies. The guests highlight the importance of setting collaborative goals with forward-thinking clients. Bringing perspectives from the Gulf Coast to the East Coast, the conversation addresses approaches for both new construction and existing building stock.

The podcast discussion focuses on strategies to quantify and reduce embodied and operational carbon in the built environment, as well as the role of biophilic design, rewilding, and educating building occupants. Practical takeaways provide actionable guidance on material selection, construction techniques, and stakeholder engagement.

Top 5 Takeaways

  1. Consider both embodied and operational carbon.
  2. Collaborate with clients from the start.
  3. Choose local, natural materials and design for reuse.
  4. Rewilding provides carbon sequestration benefits.
  5. Educate occupants for long-term success.
Rives Taylor
Rives co-directs Gensler’s global Design Resilience practice focused on sustainable design, and is the global Resilience lead for the Gensler Research Institute. He is a principal and a recognized global expert in resilient, high-performance, and sustainable design, and has served as a faculty member at Rice University and the University of Houston for 30 years. Rives is based in Houston. Contact him at .
Katie Mesia
As Firmwide Design Resilience Leader and Director of Sustainability for Gensler’s Southeast region, Katie focuses on shifting the firm culture to meet our 2030 carbon neutrality goals. By gathering resources and developing tools, she coaches and inspires colleagues to consider the carbon impact of the decisions they make. She is based in Washington, D.C. Contact her at .
Abby Young headshot
Abby Young
Abby Young is a Sustainability Specialist at Gensler who has worked on a variety of sustainability consulting projects. Her work spans from certification work to sustainability strategy with a speciality in deep dives into embodied carbon assessments. She is based in Washington, D.C. Contact her at .
Brandon Larcom
Brandon is a global leader of Gensler’s Product Development practice. As Co-Director of Product Development, he specializes in business development, identifying future design industry trends, and licensing for global product rollouts. Brandon currently hosts and co-produces the Gensler Design Exchange podcast, facilitating a dialogue between design experts, creative trendsetters, and thought leaders to discuss how Gensler is enhancing the human experience through the world of design. Contact him at .