Chris Sharples and Steven Garcia discuss how SHoP is employing Fair Supply data to transform their supply chain decision making, including the importance of using technology to track and embed information related to material sourcing, labor risks, and carbon data directly into architectural models.


Steven: At SHoP we've been working for some time on formulating a perspective on our impact. This involves setting out real metrics and data points for the way that we see ourselves moving forward and what we mean by our impact as architects across the board. 

Chris: SHoP is a very model based operation. The way we tend to operate is through model based delivery processes where we're actually modeling the building, not necessarily drawing the building or drafting the building, and we're able to go to a high degree of fidelity where we can, if we wanted to, we could actually model the screws if we wanted to get to that level of detail.

And so the next step for us is to begin to understand, well, how do they source the material? Who are they getting this material from? What is the make of that material? 

What became interesting to us was how could we take information, risks, data information and embed it directly into the model? 

And this is when we had a chance to connect with [Kimberly Randle]. And she has developed this web based application where you're able to put inputs, material inputs, the fabricator inputs, the industry inputs, and be able to get back a theoretical risk data number. And we were like this, this is very powerful.


Chris: So what's been really exciting, working with Kimberly Randle and Fair Supply, is how we can supply quality information, whether it's fabrication, who the fabricator is, what the materials are, what the quantity of those materials are, and feed that information into their forced labor modeling platform and then receive information back on what those risks would be with those particular materials and suppliers. It's just the beginning.

And, you know, an added value that they're also providing is data on the embodied carbon. So all of this information becomes true data points that you can click on. You understand how many cubic yards of concrete or tonnage of steel you have or, you know, what kind of glass it is. You can actually begin to understand what the risks are, the theoretical labor risks.

Steven: And what we're excited about, I think in many ways is then embedding that into the model and seeing, you know, tangibly in front of us through visualization tools that we've developed here in house, how the model is performing or how the project is performing on the whole, that we can share that transparency with our clients so they have an understanding on how they are doing with their own reporting and goals, how they're doing.


Chris: You know, when you start developing a project, the model doesn't have a lot of information, it has geometry. But as you start developing the details and the material systems, those models hit a high degree of fidelity. And so the thing is, as you keep adding this data in, there is labor risk data, carbon data, the way that the elements would be actually fabricated. You at the end of the day have an incredibly robust model. And the thing is those models just don't go into some drawer and don't get looked at. Again, we're able to take that data and create a library of source information that we can apply to future projects. So as we start to see where we're doing really well in terms of addressing this issue of forced labor, we can see which fabricators, which industries, which materials, what quantities actually are performing at a much higher level versus others. And we can begin to have conversations with fabricators, we can then begin to say, Hey, have you considered looking at this particular source for this material versus this one?

We've also seen that there are parallels between high carbon and high forced labor. So when we see these things, we can actually start to interpolate them. And I think that's something that again, about architects are becoming much, much more informed. But the key is not to get this information, especially this critical information coming from Fair Supply's theoretical modeling, and then put it into a paper document. It actually goes right into the model and you can click on it and see it. And it's that kind of visual intimacy that we think is going to be really critical to accelerate education and understand how we begin to really combat these challenges.

Steven: With that goal in mind, we've been working hand in hand with Fair Supply to start to develop access into their API so that our ultimate goal will be to run this analysis on the entire portfolio of projects in real time. That information becomes much more of a live back and forth process. And again, ultimately with the goal of empowering all of us that are making decisions about which material to choose or which supplier to go with. If we're talking with a client or contractor down the line, it helps to provide the transparency into that and see what the impact of each of those changes can be along the way. So we think that this is a good model for a variety of data points, but really honed in on ethical sourcing as a starting point.

“So what’s been really exciting working with Fair Supply is how we can supply quality information into the forced labour product and then receive information back on risks associated with particular materials and suppliers”
Christopher Sharples
Founding Principal at SHoP Architects
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