NIBS Survey: 65 Percent of Built Environment Employees Say It’s Important to Increase Diversity

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GBI’s community of members and stakeholders took part in the National Institute of Building Sciences social equity survey

Portland, Ore. – Around two-thirds (65%) of employees have indicated that it is important or extremely important to increase the diversity of the built environment, according to the 2021 Built Environment Social Equity Survey of the
National Institute of Building Sciences (NIBS).

The Green Building Initiative (GBI), with its mission of improving the built environment and reducing climate impacts, was among the partners who took part in the survey. Seventeen other organizations also participated including the American Institute of Architects, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers, Building Owners and Managers Association International, Construction Management Association of America, Construction Specifications Institute, Council for the American Society of Interior Designers, Design-Build Institute of America, Energy & Environmental Building Alliance, Institute of Real Estate Management, International Code Council, International Institute of Building Enclosure Consultants, New Buildings Institute, Northwest Energy Efficiency Council & Smart Buildings Center, Regional Hispanic Contractors Association, RMC Research & Education Foundation, and U.S. Green Building Council.

“We are grateful to NIBS for bringing together so many organizations from within the built environment to ensure an accurate representation of our industry,” said Vicki Worden, President & CEO of GBI, “It will take a unified effort to make the changes we want to achieve greater diversity, equity, and inclusion, and GBI will use our community of educators, practitioners, and thought leaders to help support this important goal.”

GBI has initiated a diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) task group comprised of its board of directors and staff members and co-facilitated by diversity consultants from The Wonder Group and Inspired Vision. The task group will deliver an action plan to the GBI board for approval in September, and GBI staff expect the plan to include offering a series of workshops and webinars focused on sharing DEI objectives and strategies among other actions. GBI also offers a Green Globes Emerging Professionals (GGEP) credential for college students and professionals early in their career at a cost of only $50 that includes pairing the young professionals with an accomplished mentor. Formal mentoring can potentially open doors that may previously have been less accessible and can result in emerging professionals achieving the success they desire toward their career goals. Information on GBI’s GGEP program can be found at

Lakisha A. Woods, CAE, President and CEO of NIBS, says DEI, specifically in leadership positions, must be a priority in the building industry.

“The built environment needs a workforce and culture transformation,” Woods said. “This survey is just the first step to establish baseline data and set actionable goals.”

In March, NIBS enlisted market research and consulting firm Avenue M Group to conduct the survey and analyze data. Nearly 12,000 responses were collected.

Among the findings:

  • The majority of survey respondents are employed full-time (71%) and have been in the built environment for more than 20 years.
  • Nearly three-fourths (74%) of survey respondents identify as White.
  • Sixty-three percent of respondents work in private industry or business and 23% work in government.
  • Nearly two-thirds (65%) of respondents are men, and almost three in 10 (28%) are women.
  • Sixty-six percent of women respondents indicated they experienced discrimination or prejudice in the built environment based on gender.
  • More than two in five (43%) employed/working respondents indicated their company has a program or initiative dedicated to DEI.
  • Younger respondents and women were more likely to indicate the importance to increase the diversity of the built environment.

Black or African-American respondents (91%), South Asian respondents (89%), East Asian respondents (84%), and Hispanic or Latina/Latino/Latinx respondents (79%) were more likely than White respondents (64%) to indicate it is important or extremely important to increase the diversity of the built environment.

About GBI

GBI is a nonprofit organization and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) Accredited Standards Developer dedicated to improving building performance and reducing climate impacts. Founded in 2004, the organization is the global provider of the Green Globes
® and federal Guiding Principles Compliance building certification and assessment programs. To learn more about opportunities to become involved with GBI, contact or visit the GBI website at

About NIBS

National Institute of Building Sciences brings together labor and consumer interests, government representatives, regulatory agencies, and members of the building industry to identify and resolve problems and potential issues around the construction of housing and commercial buildings. NIBS is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization. It was established by Congress in 1974. For more information, visit or follow @bldgsciences on Twitter and Facebook.







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