Building for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Justice

Joshua Gassman, Lord Aeck Sargent
Star Scott, University of Georgia

Every choice we make in how and what to build and what materials to use in our buildings has frequently unseen downstream impacts on other communities as well as the larger ecosystem. The Kendeda Building at Georgia Tech achieved the Living Building Challenge Materials Petal that prohibits the use of over 800 toxic chemical compounds in the building materials and in building operations (so no formaldehyde in the carpets or the labs). This prohibition has vast consequences for the better beyond just the building occupants, including significant environmental justice impacts.

We will talk about what materials all buildings need to be prohibiting, how Kendeda did so, and how the construction of the building was able to give back to the community by using the mass timber construction as a training program for re-entry to society for formally incarcerated men. The presentation will also look at lab waste and where it goes, whom it impacts and the larger societal issues that laboratories can either help with or exacerbate.

Learning Objectives

  • Learn how to create environmental waste management practices that respect the safety, health and needs of all beings;
  • Understand how to look past cheaper price tags of products and identify workplace injustices that lead to such pricing;
  • Understand how chemicals and their manufacture disproportionately impacts some people; and
  • Learn how to avoid the use of some toxic chemicals in the design and construction of new buildings and renovations.


For more than 20 years Joshua has lead large, multi-faceted design teams focused on sustainable design. During his career he has managed a broad spectrum of projects, ranging from large research labs for major universities to interpretive and education centers. He is co-vice president and founding member of the Georgia Chapter of I2SL.

Star Scott is the Green Labs program coordinator for the University of Georgia. Prior to creating this program, she spent nearly a decade as a Research Professional in conservation-driven research and has a background in wildlife biology and ecology. She is co-vice president and founding member of the Georgia Chapter of I2SL.


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