Coming from an emerging architect, who has not dreamt of becoming an eminent architect with a renowned architecture firm? The young guns amidst the realm of architecture can dream a little. 

If Art Gensler (1935-2021), the founder of his eponymous architecture firm Gensler had not pushed his dream of establishing a global architecture, design, and planning firm, the world would not have Gensler, the world’s largest architecture studio with 50 global offices and $1.5 billion revenue.

Architects and Sustainability: Gensler - Sheet1
Blackstation, 14 November 2015, Up the 632 Shanghai Tower by Gensler, second tallest in the world (Photograph)
https://www.architectural-review.com/today/up-the-632m-shanghai-tower-by-gensler-second-tallest-in-the-world

Who hasn’t heard about iconic megaprojects like the world’s third tallest building Shanghai Tower and the city within a city on the Las Vegas strip? Art Gensler has helped pioneer the profession of design by adopting a client-first approach that puts the clients at the heart of everything; emphasizing more on the human experience in a building and scrutinizing the journey of the user in helping shape the design of the building. Art believed in the power of design and making the world better, which still to this day stands as Gensler’s motto; transforming everyday life by shaping the world we are living in. 

Architects and Sustainability: Gensler - Sheet2
Arthur Gensler_archpaper.com

Gensler doesn’t believe in labeling themselves with a single style of design; they embraced diverse project types from micro to macro scales to suit the client requirements by reflecting them through architecture. Thus, building a like-minded collaborative team that consisted of global talents who focused on running a company through a ‘one-firm firm’ philosophy, where every individual towered high with a burning desire and passion to contribute to the overall community.   

Art has embraced sustainable design practices in Gensler since the 1990s, awarding him recognition as a groundbreaker for the green building industry. As of now, the efforts have been ever growing into Gensler as the leader to address mitigating measures against climate change.

 Revival through design

The world is living through the greatest epoch of urbanization throughout history with over half the world’s population migrating to cities. To keep up with the population boom, there needs to be double the number of buildings in the world. The impact of the built environment comes with dire consequences on the natural environment as the building sector accounts for 39% of global GHG emissions. 

Gensler has embraced design as the means to an end, to fight against climate change. As the world’s largest design firm, Gensler has taken the responsibility to become the world leader to lead climate action. Armed with cutting-edge design tools, Gensler is taking action to the challenge with innovative, sustainable, and affordable design solutions.

With every project, Gensler aims to transform the built environment for a net zero future. Their climate manifesto claims to save more than 17 million metric tons of Co2 emissions annually. But their climate goal involves a holistic approach as they believe it is imperative to involve the entire industry, clients, and colleagues. Gensler Cities Carbon Challenge (GC3) is their mutualistic roadmap of leading to their climate target; helping clients reach their carbon target alongside making their building carbon neutral within a decade.

Gensler Cities Climate Challenge (GC3) 

GC3’s main focus on achieving carbon neutrality is to reduce operating carbon and embodied carbon. Operating Carbon is related to the impact of usage in buildings, such as lighting, heating, cooling, cooking, etc. Some of the strategies they’ve opted for include optimum sizing, which reduces the operating energy per square foot. Likewise, embodied carbon relates to the building materials, thus strategizing the selection of reusable zero-Impacting materials in construction helps to balance the impact through net-positive production.

Having a large number of projects every year across the globe, Gensler has a great opportunity to turn the tide against climate action and lead with strategic approaches across the building industry. 

Architects and Sustainability: Gensler - Sheet3
Gensler, 2023, These 5 strategies are our roadmap for leading the industry toward net zero carbon (Diagram)
https://www.gensler.com/the-gensler-cities-climate-challenge

Strategies leading toward a net zero carbon

Since Gensler is the largest design firm, the world looks up to them to take a step towards making a difference against the global crisis. Gensler believes in making a global collaboration amongst all the industry partners, be it suppliers, contractors, or consultants, the entire community standing on the same platform and agreeing upon standardizing sustainable building materials by January 2024. 

Going green with construction materials is Gensler’s key strategy to combat climate change. Whether it is the production of materials or the transport, guidelines for specific materials are provided and to be followed strictly in all their projects. Products will be required to have environmental product declarations (EPDs) tagged with them. EPD collects a set of lifecycle data based on the environmental impacts of building products compared to their substitutes. Their target by January 2024 is to make sure every material the designers specify has EDP disclosure.

Gensler has immersed professionals in all disciplines in their studios across the globe to be trained and developed in design resilience practices. So that in any case scenario, everyone associated with the industry is guided, made aware, and updated with sustainable goals, leading as an example in making a shift towards educating themselves as well as the clients. Before setting carbon-neutral goals, Gensler is establishing a universal method for measuring operational and embodied carbon in all their ongoing projects; by streamlining its data collection and analyzing the accurate material quantities.      

To create a sustainable future, every step leading toward the final design is essential. Thus, Gensler has implemented gPlanet in their design process. gPlanet is an analytical tool consisting of industry-approved analysis engines, and computational software to aid the designers to come up with a resilient design in real-time across all the projects, for a sustainable and resilient future. 

Gensler, 2023, Urban Strategies for Coastal Resilience, Miami (Illustration)
https://www.gensler.com/climate-action-2021-real-estate-must-adapt

The spaces that Architects design today impact the generation of tomorrow. Thus, Gensler is the global leader in the industry in expressing a design that creates a positive impact on cities and is resilient to climate change. Market forces, local government, and major investors are demanding a change. Hence, environmental, social, and governance goals are essential as the climate crisis is being tackled so that the places designers create have economic value, social value as well as environmental value.

Reference List: 

-Arnone J., 2022, ‘Mosaic’,Top 30 Architecture firms in the US for 2022, Accessed 29 July 2023
https://www.mosaicapp.com/post/top-architecture-firms-us-2022#:~:text=Gensler%20is%20the%20only%20%241,by%20more%20than%20%24400%20million.

– Gensler, 2023, ‘Gensler’, Art Gensler 1935-2021, Accessed 29 July 2023. https://www.gensler.com/art-gensler-legacy

-Gensler Design (2021) Climate Action Through Design(YouTube video).
Available at
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hpnOrSFqy40&list=TLGGJVooY0VPJBoyOTA3MjAyMw&t=61s
(Accessed date: 29 July 2023).

-India Block, 12 May 2021, ‘Dezeen’, Eight interiors and architecture projects by Gensler, Accessed 29 July 2023 https://www.dezeen.com/2021/05/12/art-gensler-architecture-interiors-key-projects/

– Image 1 – Blackstation, 14 November 2015, Up the 632 Shanghai Tower by Gensler, second tallest in the world (Photograph)
https://www.architectural-review.com/today/up-the-632m-shanghai-tower-by-gensler-second-tallest-in-the-world

– Image 2 – Cornell AAP, 12 May 2021, M. Arthur “Art” Gensler Jr., Emily Hagopian (Photograph)
https://aap.cornell.edu/news-events/m-arthur-art-gensler-jr-1935-2021

– Image 3 – Gensler, 2023, These 5 strategies are our roadmap for leading the industry toward net zero carbon (Diagram)
https://www.gensler.com/the-gensler-cities-climate-challenge

– Image 4  – Gensler, 2023, Urban Strategies for Coastal Resilience, Miami (Illustration)
https://www.gensler.com/climate-action-2021-real-estate-must-adapt

Author

Sumin Bajracharya is a flamboyant architectural designer passionate about design and the wanderlust that comes with it. A nature lover and photography enthusiast who encapsulates the ambiguity of the world through his lens