Climate Work is Equity Work

Arguments and resources to help you be a better advocate

A downtown Seattle ferry, surrounded by wildfire smoke.

At a recent conference, I made a pretty straightforward argument that goes like this:

  • The built environment contributes nearly 40% of global greenhouse gas emissions (28% operational, 11% embodied).
  • Climate change disproportionately impacts minority and marginalized communities. The folks who contribute the least are hit first and hardest, and often lack equitable access to resilience resources like insurance.
  • Work that attempts to mitigate or lessen the built environment’s climate change impacts is equity work and should be treated that way. To be effective advocates, we need to explicitly communicate this connection.

There are many ways to design, build and operate buildings to reduce their climate impacts, ranging from energy efficient design to selection of lower carbon materials (decisions made possible by tools like the Embodied Carbon in Construction Calculator, or EC3).

The first point is well-documented and the data really speaks for itself — nearly every “green building” presentation starts by citing this 40% statistic. The second point is also well-documented, but as a practitioner, I found it difficult to locate and save the latest research and data points, so they could be easily accessed and leveraged to advocate for sustainable design.

So, I created this post as a collection of those resources and a reference for advocates. This is obviously a work in progress, and by no means an exhaustive list. In fact, I am intentionally trying to collect articles that demonstrate the many, diverse ways that climate change impacts minority communities, so that advocates can speak to the issues that most resonate with their audience or community.

I will update this list periodically and I welcome suggestions for contributions from others.

Additional reports and research are collected in a previous post, at this link. If you have feedback, or an article or report you would like to see added, reach out by email:

Attorney + sustainability consultant. I write about how we can drive deep green innovation at scale.