hen I was first approached by former CEO and Workscape co-founder Dawn Sauter for a position as a DIRTT designer, I had no clue what she was talking about. I think I had heard of DIRTT Environmental Solutions one other time in my budding interior designer career. I knew what an interior design role entailed and was not sure if those same functions might apply in this position.
I’m sure she sensed hesitation in my voice when I askes, “What did that even mean, DIRTT designer”?
She quickly roped me in at the end of the first sentence with: “…and it’s sustainable.”
She probably didn’t know it then, but Dawn was speaking to my little green heart. Don’t get me wrong, I do not claim to be the most experienced or well-versed in the sustainability space or green design. I do my absolute best, however, to continue learning how and where I can best mitigate the harmful impact we all have on the environment. I’ve got the basics under my belt: reduce single-use plastics, reuse items where possible, reduce energy consumption, et cetera.
So, I was intrigued. My ears perked up when I heard the terms “sustainable”, “green”, and “environmentally friendly” emerge in design and building conversations. What would being a DIRTT designer mean for me professionally and how does DIRTT contribute to sustainable design efforts?
It secretly made my heart sing knowing that DIRTT’s products can help a client’s project contribute to Green Building Rating Systems, such as LEED, Well- Being Standards and Living Building. The built environment has such a large role in impacting the natural environment, and I have grown to fully believe that designers and architects have a responsibility to uphold positive contributions to it. Through my undergraduate thesis work, I learned that traditional construction and demolition creates a massive amount of landfill waste (the EPA reports 569 million tons of debris as of 2017). By working with DIRTT, I realized that using prefabricated construction can alleviate much of this material waste.
I eventually said yes to Dawn and in my day-to-day as a construction designer I am now responsible for creating super-cool renderings, packaging together shop drawings, working with preliminary budgeting, and 350 other activities. From a bird’s eye view, I see my role as part of a movement that values and cares for the environment around us.
I see myself as an extension of a company that works tirelessly to decrease the overall embodied energy of a construction project. This is but one aspect of DIRTT’s sustainability initiatives, which also includes material composition and procurement, close-proximity manufacturing and shipping methods, use of meticulous 3D modeling, and exceedingly precise product orders. (If this sounds like a sales pitch, don’t worry, it isn’t. Maybe a little, but I digress).
When I entered the workforce, I wanted to be involved in environmentally conscious design methods. It was important that my professional role be fulfilling and, ideally, make a positive impact on the world. I know now it is my responsibility as a designer to work in harmony with the environment, rather than in conflict with it.
I had no idea where I would go when Dawn reached out to me that day, but I am so glad I made it here!