NESSBE 2023: Design for Freedom: Building a Responsible Global Material Supply Chain

November 17, 2023

Is your building ethically sourced as well as sustainably designed? This question is central to the
Design for Freedom Movement. During this panel discussion, we will highlight the prevalence
of forced and child labor within the building materials supply chain. Globally there are 28
million people trapped in unjust and dangerous labor conditions. We are working together on a
progressive movement to dismantle this systemic oppression. We’ll look at the entire ecosystem of the built environment and discuss how material transparency can be enhanced through new tools and resources. We’ll explore frameworks for navigating product disclosures, certifications, and supply chain mapping that aim to prioritize
both material and human health.

We’ll show that by leveraging partnerships we all have an opportunity and responsibility to
demand due diligence and material transparency in our work.


  • Define modern-day slavery, and understand the scale and scope of the human-rights risks in the building materials supply chain.
  • Identify tools and solutions that designers, manufacturers, contractors, and owners can use to create supply chain transparency. 
  • Summarize best practices from leading manufacturers and designers who are taking action to address equity in their own projects.
  • Recognize key attributes of ethical material procurement.