On September 18, 2023 the AIANY Women in Architecture Committee together with the Committee on the Environment kicked off climate week by hosting a special panel “Championing A Sustainable Framework For Integrated Design Excellence.” We were honored to have Alison Mears, AIA, and Jonsara Ruth, Professors and Co-Founders of the Healthy Materials Lab at the Parsons School of Design moderate our panel of esteemed speakers: Ilana Judah, AIA, Associate Principal & Resilience, Climate & Sustainability, Arup; Mallory Taub, Assoc. AIA, Senior Associate & Sustainability Director, Gensler; Yasemin Kologlu, AIA, Design Principal & Sustainable Design Expert, SOM; and Christina X Brown, Assoc. AIA, Environmental Performance Specialist, KPF.

The evening started with each panelist sharing their personal journeys and how they arrived at their current roles. Many spoke about their childhood place, a recurring theme, reflecting on their early experiences of the outdoors in relation to the built environment that informed their views about planetary and human health. The conversation was rich and varied. We learned how exposure to living in different countries can provide a new way of thinking about thermal comfort, and how cultural and social nuances about how people live together can inform space and architecture. The panelists spoke about the importance of resilience in design—widening your lens to think more broadly about things at a systems level and the ripple effects, for example, material production impact on workers. We gained insight into how we can leverage technology, data, and computational tools to inform our design, as well as tap into the various resources and toolkits available. The panelists also addressed the importance of climate justice, social equity, advocacy, and policy and how each of us can play a part in effecting change—through collaboration with local agencies and support of not-for-profit groups at a community and urban scale, approaching design from an inclusive perspective. Finally, the speakers shared their inspiration for doing what they do, from being motivated by what we are leaving behind for the next generation to being inspired by an activist environmentalist parent—the motivations of both the younger and older generation keep us going.

A special thanks to our amazing panel of climate champions for an engaging and uplifting conversation, their valuable insights on our planetary health and what we can do collectively to reduce our carbon footprint. We are inspired by how each are contributing through their work and initiatives to champion a sustainable framework. Thank you to all who attended and asked thoughtful questions. We look forward to seeing you at our next event!