A long time ago, I attended a workshop at Stanford University regarding negotiation. And although I gathered great information and insight into this topic, the one statement that still reverberates with me to this day was this: “in negotiation, it is important to share the same values.” And although that looks pretty simplistic, achieving that goal is not always easy. However, it comes down to being in the right place with the “right” people who have the same principles as you regarding fairness, honesty, a vision, and the desire to achieve the same project goals and work together to get there. This can be challenging at times since, as a business, we need to consider the importance of revenue to survive, but maintaining our values is also key. It differentiates us as professionals and as a business of choice.
As we proceed through these times where sustainability, social justice, and increased collaboration to improve our communities have become an integral part of our lives, it is becoming easier and easier to find other professionals with whom we can work together on a project which coincides with our values. As I engage with more and more clients and other AEC (architecture,-engineering-construction) professionals, It has become clearer that we are not just interested in making money but also in positively impacting our communities and environment through our work and how we work together.
Not so long ago, and even now, sustainability end eco-friendly construction was associated with a certain level of wealth. Therefore, many considered the movement out of the reach of most people. However, as poorer neighborhoods and towns across the country complained about health issues related to their environment, it became apparent that designing and constructing conscientiously was no longer an option but rather an obligation, which has been regulated more and more. Additionally, communities and individual residents have also become to speak up and advocate for their welfare and families.
Currently, public and private construction projects are either fully sustainable or at least use some sustainable approach; either because the clients request it or because it is mandated by code or other standards. Therefore, it has become much easier for those who have advocated for sustainability in the built environment to work with like-minded professionals. For example, years ago, a well-known San Francisco architect biked everywhere and would only work on sustainable projects. He was one of very few such people, but currently, it has become more commonplace. So much so that it is easier to work with people with the same values and an eye towards environmental protection as success criteria. To that end, it is now our responsibility to provide the success factors to achieve these goals. Such way that we use at SCE is to provide a lifecycle analysis of our projects, including the cost differential and long-term benefits of employing sustainable best practices and guidelines.