MSR Design is one of 13 design firms that participated in the Metropolis Sustainability Hackathon, a series of workshops with design experts that culminated in the Metropolis Climate Toolkit for Interior Design, which Metropolis launched on August 31st.
With extreme weather events and wildfires raging around the world in 2021, the crisis is hitting closer to home than ever before. Pollution and environmental degradation take an inequitable toll. For example, as an outcome of segregation, redlining, and other discriminatory practices, according to a New York Times article by Linda Villarosa, Black Americans today are still 75% more likely to reside in neighborhoods and communities adjacent to manufacturing sites that produce hazardous waste. The climate crisis is both a health and equity issue. Interior designers have a special role to play in the fight to lower the amount of greenhouse gases we put in the atmosphere and reduce the toxic chemistry we design into our spaces. The Metropolis Climate Toolkit for Interior Design provides a starting point for the interior design industry to make the right decisions and help avert climate catastrophe.
Industry experts in design, construction, and manufacturing—including MSR Design interior designers Veronica McCracken, CID, Emily Gross, NCIDQ, and Lauren Gardner—participated in a three-month-long hackathon to identify where we can make the biggest difference with interior design. They helped define 20 key strategies where the industry can improve and evolve. Each strategy contains multiple suggestions and guidelines, with links to tools, resources, and further reading.
“Coming together with experts from organizations across the country gave us a real sense of hope,” says Veronica. “It’s encouraging to know that interior designers are passionate about reversing climate change and conscious of the human health impacts of our designs, even though it can be daunting to tackle and apply to our practice. The Metropolis Climate Toolkit for Interior Design will guide all designers to make better choices and design with the Earth’s future in mind.”
As a result of MSR Design contributing resources to the climate toolkit, Metropolis editor in chief Avinash Rajagopal interviewed MSR Design architect Simona Fischer, AIA, as part of the Metropolis ProductLIVE! marathon broadcast in June, during which she outlined MSR Design’s Sustainable Materials Action Packet and Sustainability Metrics Drawing Set Template. Created by MSR Design, these key resources are referenced throughout the climate toolkit, including as resources for low-carbon design and finding hotspots for carbon emissions, setting up a screening process for all materials and products, developing an internal rating system, on-boarding new team members and new employees, and sharing crucial information with peers and stakeholders.
Simona states, “As architects, we only start making truly sustainable buildings after we become students of building materials; their life cycles; and who they touch, support, and shelter. The supply chains and effects on human health are messy and complex, but also tangible and real. It is crucial that designers take ownership of these impacts and find real solutions.”