Q+A with Cynthia Harman-Jones, Specifications Writer (Dearborn)
How do you describe the importance of sustainable design to those outside of the industry?
We all experience the built environment – our homes, workplaces, and places we visit. Sustainable design and the practitioners of sustainable design work to create a built environment that reduces the burden on the environment and making buildings more comfortable and healthier for inhabitants.
As a Specifications Writer, what is your “Why” for reaching carbon neutrality on Ghafari projects?
My "why" for carbon neutrality is the pursuit of solving a problem. Carbon neutrality is a complex problem that includes environmentally sustainable neutrality, educating others on its importance, and helping to build the business case for it. Carbon neutrality is an opportunity that will be answered by the problem solvers. We are to evolve the tools to help educate our clients and understand carbon neutrality and how to measure success. I enjoy collaborating and learning from others, their experiences and lessons learned are needed to figure out how we are going to reach carbon neutrality.
What sustainable materials / technologies have you applied on Ghafari projects?
As a specifier, I have an important job of researching the materials and technologies that meet the sustainability objectives set by the project team. It varies by project, but sustainable materials could improve energy performance, reduce carbon footprint, or reduce long term emissions. I have the responsibility of writing the requirements in the contract documents and creating the procedures to make certain that sustainable materials and technologies are used.
How would you describe Ghafari’s culture of sustainability?
The Ghafari culture of sustainability is about practicing sustainability. This, "practice" goes beyond recycling and energy conservation measures to building a more inclusive workplace. This inclusivity is a requirement for collaborative teams that innovate to find sustainable solutions.
How are you supporting Ghafari’s sustainability action plan as an AIA 2030 Commitment signatory firm?
I'm supporting the sustainability action plan by educating others on the importance of specifications in documenting the sustainability goals of a project and creating a process or tools to document and measure how successful the sustainability goals were.
What role does sustainability play in your life outside of work?
Outside of work, it's about doing a lot of small things (like recycling, water, and energy conservation) that in time will add up to big things. It is important to educate our children on the importance of environmental stewardship. I realize that leading by example is imprinting good habits on my son.