My lesson this month has been around the value and gift of presence: with family, community, and colleagues. Early this month, our board and staff gathered in D.C. for IMT strategic planning for 2024-2027. From our kickoff activity visualizing our future to the deep dives workshopping emerging opportunities, it’s such a great moment to take stock of where we’ve been, and where we are going! When I think about the future of buildings work – and specifically how we fortify and reduce pollution in our existing homes and workplaces – I realize that the themes that were emerging in discussion are relevant for the full field.
Business as usual is not really working for most people at the moment. The multiple co-occurring challenges—the impacts of extreme weather, rising costs and economic pressures, knowledge gaps in how to build and align a team to identify what action to take and how to take it—make it harder to act on building improvements. The themes around what’s needed span hyper-localized to systemic action:
- Co-designing solutions. The business practices, policies, and products that we need to address these multi-layered challenges will be co-designed with the people who are experiencing them. This can look like housing improvement programs designed with input from people who lack access and want them or policy development processes that center community stakeholders.
- Shifting the norms of how we work. Whether you own a portfolio of buildings, provide a service to buildings, or provide services to a community, there is a role for you! And, in some cases that may require change management within an entire company towards performance. An example of this is performance-aligned leasing: to achieve high-performing buildings, an owner of a portfolio will need to align an internal team and contracted services teams.
- Place-based capacity building. This means training community members, lenders, building owners, contractors, design-and construction specialists, and government leaders to design, build, operate, and renovate buildings to a standard that will support low pollution, resilient buildings. Examples include community-led capacity building and Building Innovation Hubs working to make it easier for people to build the knowledge they need.
- Addressing the cross-cutting issues with systems change. For example, how do you pay for a building upgrade in a time of inflation when it may be fifth on your list of priorities (or not yet on the list at all)? How can we leverage existing financial products, and where are changes needed to increase accessibility and reduce the risk of inaction?
Climate action requires action from everyone. By working from the ground-up, systems change is possible! And economy-wide changes to how we invest in, build, manage, and experience our buildings can be informed by what will truly work for everyone. We work to achieve a vision of a world in which our buildings help us eliminate greenhouse gas emissions and support our social, economic, and physical well-being.