Cultivating an Equitable and JUST Workplace

The Living Product Challenge is an aspirational framework for manufacturers to make healthy products that give back more than they take from the environment and society. The Building Blocks of Living Products is a three-part education series that will explore key components of the Living Product framework: transparent material health, net positive life cycle impacts, and social equity.





As our local economy continues to grow and reinvent itself, attracting and retaining top talent is more important than ever for organizations of all sizes in Pittsburgh. This is the case for corporations, manufacturers, non-profit organizations and design firms alike. Prospective employees seek organizational policies and commitments that reflect their social values, and a fun and enjoyable place to work.

The International Living Future Institute’s JUST program is a voluntary disclosure label and tool for all types and sizes of organizations. The JUST program provides an innovative transparency platform for organizations to reveal much about their operations, including how they treat their employees and where they make financial and community investments. This approach requires reporting on a range of indicators that ask for simple yet specific and measurable accountabilities. This data is summarized elegantly on a JUST label, which can be used by an organization on their website and in marketing to show commitment and public transparency on these issues. By having your policies be transparent and publicly available, employees will have more buy-in and commitment to the overall organizational mission.

Participants will learn to describe the major components of the JUST program and discuss the business rationale for investing in social justice policies, programs and practices. Shawn Hesse, Community Engagement Manager at the International Living Future Institute, will walk through the various JUST indicators, giving advice on the key workplace issues that employees are concerned about and how to position your organization for success. Aurora Sharrard, Executive Director of Green Building Alliance, will then share her organization’s experience pursuing the JUST label. This is the third workshop in our three-part series, The Building Blocks of Living Products, which is also exploring ingredient transparency and lifecycle impacts.


About the Pittsburgh Living Product Hub
In partnership with Green Building Alliance, the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) established the Pittsburgh Living Product Hub in April 2017 to accelerate the region’s transformation into a center for sustainable manufacturing. The Hub serves as a center of education and outreach, connecting innovative products and manufacturers, buildings and communities to the ILFI’s vision, programs and network.

About the International Living Future Institute
The International Living Future Institute is a non-profit dedicated to inspiring the transformation of products, buildings and communities that are socially just, culturally rich and ecologically restorative. Through its visionary programs and partnerships with local communities, ILFI’s goals are to reconcile humanity’s relationship with the natural world and offer global strategies for lasting sustainability that are grounded and relevant.



Shawn Hesse, NCARB, LFA, LEED AP BD+C, O+M, Community Engagement Manger
As the Community Engagement Manager, Shawn leads the strategy, training, and support for ILFI’s international network of Ambassadors and Collaboratives. Shawn has over 13 years of project experience with LEED, the Living Building Challenge, and net zero energy projects. He has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and policy makers at all levels of government on issues related to sustainability, social equity, and green jobs. As a volunteer, he has co-authored Social Equity Pilot Credits for LEED, and is Vice President of Architects/Designers/Planners for Social Responsibility, working to promote human rights through design.


Benson Gabler, Pittsburgh Living Product Hub Director, International Living Future Institute
Benson manages the Pittsburgh Living Product Hub, which ILFI launched in April 2017 to support the region’s growth of green manufacturing and regenerative product design. Benson spent the past eight years directing the corporate sustainability program for The PNC Financial Services Group, where he championed an enterprise-wide sustainability program to reduce the bank’s operational footprint, mitigate environmental risk within its lending portfolio, and seek out financing opportunities to support a low-carbon economy. Prior to PNC, he worked on sustainable product design for Stonyfield Farm and the GreenBlue Institute. Benson is a LEED Accredited Professional, who holds a BA from the University of Virginia and an MBA and Master of Environmental Management (MEM) from Yale University.


Aurora Sharrard, PhD, LEED AP BD+C, Executive Director, Green Building Alliance
As GBA’s Executive Director, Dr. Aurora Sharrard leads the organization in achieving its mission of inspiring the creation of healthy, high performing places for everyone through leadership that connects knowledge, transformative ideas, and collaborative action. A GBA staff member since 2007, Aurora continues to drive organizational innovation while advancing GBA’s strategic plan, programs, staff, and stakeholder relationships. A nationally recognized green building expert, Aurora has served GBA under several titles, always providing innovative solutions, and strategic thinking, and real world application.



1. Explore the emerging trends in key organizational issues such as workforce diversity and worker happiness
2. Understand the basic framework of the JUST Program
3. Learn about the resources and guidance that ILFI can provide to support your organization’s policy development
4. Discuss the business rationale for organizational investments in social justice programs

Event Address: 
33 Terminal Way
Suite 331
Pittsburgh, PA 15219
Event Date: 
Tuesday, April 3, 2018 - 8:30am to 10:00am
Event Location: 
GBA Office