Ayers Saint Gross Completes JUST Disclosure
Our firm’s definition of sustainability has always recognized the careful balance between the unique needs of people and ecological systems with the economic realities inherent in each of our projects. Today we advance our commitment to sustainability by sharing more quantitative data about the social equity and justice issues imbedded in who we are and how we practice design. We hope that our transparency will inspire others to engage in critical discourse about equity in design as well as how these issues manifest in the built environment.
Ayers Saint Gross’s culture has always valued social, educational, and cultural engagement that aligns with social sustainability. We actively engage with the United Way of Central Maryland and Valley of the Sun United Way; our staff serve as mentors and board members for the ACE Mentor Program of America all over the country; we finance scholarship opportunities at a number of institutions to support students in attaining the education that will advance them in the design professions; we staff a Careers in Design exploration program for fifth graders at Beechfield Elementary School in Baltimore; and this spring we’ll be hosting our first Jim Wheeler Day of Service in honor of our firm’s former president.
We believe in an equitable community. Our firm has already invested a lot in supporting equity, diversity, and inclusion in our professions and within the communities where we live and work, but we have often followed our instincts rather than evaluating against benchmarks. This JUST Disclosure will help us make and track measurable commitments and is the next step in our commitment to social sustainability. We look forward to advancing our discussion about equity, diversity, and inclusion in quantitative ways in addition to the activities we already qualitatively discuss across our practice.
Making our JUST Disclosure also supports our clients and projects. Third-party certifications for high performance buildings, including the Living Building Challenge and LEED, recognize the importance of social equity. Our JUST Disclosure will support the Living Building Challenge Petal Certification of Semans-Griswold Environment Hall and allow every one of our LEED projects to access LEED’s Pilot Credit for Social Equity within the Project Team. We are encouraged that third-party rating systems are increasingly engaging in dialogue on social sustainability and are enthusiastic to be a part of that conversation.
JUST is a voluntary reporting tool developed by the International Living Future Institute for organizations to describe operational, social, and financial actions that contribute to what equity looks like at that organization. The program includes 21 different social justice and equity indicators within 6 categories. Each indicator has three levels of achievement and reporting must be updated at regular intervals to maintain a JUST Disclosure. Participants in JUST must disclose information on at least 18 of the 21 indicators and can only opt out of at most one indicator per category.
Our JUST Disclosure helps us walk the walk when it comes to social equity and we hope our colleagues in other organizations will join us in advancing this dialogue.