Metric analysis

What is an ESG metric and how will it change the future of design?

What is an ESG metric and how will it change the future of design?

Architects bear a significant amount of responsibility when it comes to envisioning designs that will be successful not only for their clients, but for everyone who inhabits or is impacted by their spaces. The themes of sustainability, social inclusion, economic opportunity and global urban equity have always been at the center of attention in recent years, ultimately creating a new holistic approach to design for a better future, which many people refer to as environmental, social and governance measures, more commonly referred to as ESG.

ESG is a set of standards on how to measure the sustainability of something in terms of its impacts on our environment, society and governance. Many people often associate this term with financial investment strategies, which give guidelines to investors based on how a company’s policies and initiatives respect the environment and society. But in design, ESG analysis and implementation involve careful partnerships that explore how buildings can generate more than just monetary returns, and how to qualify and quantify the experiential aspect of design. Strategies ranging from the demolition of existing buildings in an environmentally friendly way, to the creation of healthy outdoor spaces for users, to the engagement of surrounding communities for their contribution to new developments and the correct implementation of labor standards on construction sites are just some of the ways in which ESG principles are applied. impacting the design industry.

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© Binyan Studios via Koichi Takada Architects

Take a look at the “E”, in ESG, this piece of the puzzle is by far the aspect that people focus on the most. As the threat of climate change increases, sustainable design and the credentials needed to ensure architecture has less of a carbon footprint on our world are at the forefront of nearly every aspect of project design from start to finish. . Social considerations include things such as the health and safety of people in and around a project site, understanding the extent of the impact on the community by thoroughly researching social issues -economic aspects of a neighborhood and respect for the rights of unionized shopkeepers and other workers. Many architects have come to realize that new developments often displace marginalized groups of people, so they are looking for ways to ensure their projects allow these communities to flourish and prosper in new spaces. It also takes into account things like understanding the need for affordable housing and how to design and distribute those units equitably. Finally, government issues relate to interactions with key stakeholders that can mitigate risk to projects and ensure that there is no illegal activity or corruption involved. Each architectural project is a combination of multiple interests. Ensuring full transparency about how resources are allocated and the progress of a project will protect the rights of each party.

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What is an ESG metric and how will it change the future of design?  - Image 5 of 5
© Shai Gil

So how does he ESG measure up ? There is not yet a universally agreed method for measuring or comparing ESG in the design, which makes some of the results difficult to understand, there are established, small-scale ways to understand our progress. For example, sustainable practices have been in place for a long time, and with ways to measure CO2 emissions, we can understand how our buildings are performing better. The future of ESG predicts that eventually we will have some kind of matrices or dashboards that allow us to compare buildings and their overall strategies.

The fact that architects consider these issues even before their projects are presented to the drawing board, and understanding how to approach these issues with potential clients and integrate them in a meaningful way is the first step. It will be possible to measure absolute performance when outcomes are better established and agreed upon, and when we understand a qualitative and quantitative way of describing when a design is successful and when it is not.