As part of our Feature Friday interview series we recently spoke with Rhiannon Laurie, European Climate Action & Sustainability Leader / Sustainability & Wellbeing Workplace Strategist at Gensler.
WOD: Tell us about your background and journey into the workspace sector…
RL: “My educational background is in Architecture and Environmental Design. I studied architecture at Syracuse, New York and then did an MArch at the Architectural Association in Sustainable Environmental Design. When I completed the MArch I worked at Foster & Partners for a few years in the Environmental Engineering team. I learned a lot about the technical side of environmental design and the tools that were being used at the time.
I was then offered a role in Gensler’s workplace strategy team in which I was excited to work a lot closer to clients and be part of the process before design begins. It meant a lot to me to be able to have conversations with the people that would be using these buildings instead of designing without really knowing them. My background in environmental design allowed me to start having conversations about ESG right at the start of the process and help guide clients to include it in their decision making process and workplace strategy.”
WOD: And could you talk us through your current role at Gensler…
RL: “I currently wear a few hats at Gensler but my primary role is the European Climate Action & Sustainability Leader. This is a new practice area for the company this year providing clients with ESG and climate action focused consulting services.
My other roles include being the Global Office Building Retrofit Sustainability Leader and until recently I was the European Resource Director helping our partners and studios to specify products that align with our company ESG goals.”
WOD: What key issues are currently most relevant to your client base?
RL: “Key issues or requests from clients are:
- How to achieve the goal of net zero by 2030
- How to specify responsibly sourced, low carbon materials and products
- How to right-size their office design to be the most sustainable
- How to design for ESG without significantly increasing costs”