Category Archives: Sustainability

Actions Speak Louder than Labels

David Gerson

Sustainability isn’t easy. Although some product labels claim to be an indicator of health and/or environmental performance, many have little or no evaluation of the ultimate environmental or health impacts of a product. So, a label with a few check boxes does not necessarily mean that one product is more “sustainable” or “healthy” than another. For example, did you know that at the basic levels of Cradle to Cradle or Living Product Certifications, there are no requirements for renewable energy use or carbon footprint reductions, or even recycling? We need more than what these labels provide.

At Interface we have recently achieved a new third-party certification from GreenCircle Certified, LLC called the Certified Environmental Facts Label. This provides the highest standard and best product evaluation tool we know of in the industry. Recycled content, water usage, renewable energy and carbon footprint are listed in a simple format akin to USDA nutrition labels. Only when we know the facts and science, can we make good decisions for our health and our planet.

Interface Factories to Zero GreenCircle label

Interface Products to Zero GreenCircle label

But for all of the data and numbers in GreenCircle, one metric rises above the rest: Carbon Footprint. If you focus on carbon, everything else falls into place – recycled content, toxicity, renewable energy, water usage, health and safety through the entire value chain, etc. AND, it addresses the most important issue of our time, climate change.

Our comprehensive approach to sustainability on all fronts has enabled us to achieve the lowest carbon footprint in our industry. In fact, it is over three times lower than another flooring product in our industry that has achieved the Living Product Certification.

Interface carbon footprintSo, while achieving sustainability and keeping business as usual may not be easy, it is easy to see who is doing the most to halt climate change and reduce their carbon footprint. If we are all successful in this fight, then we’ll be well on our way to creating a more equitable and healthy future for everyone.

Ask every manufacturer for their third party verified Certified Environmental Facts Label.

For more on how we’re looking at taking the carbon footprint from 7kg to -2kg, view our Proof Positive tile, part of our new Climate Take Back mission

To learn how climate change affects human heath, go to: https://www.cdc.gov/climateandhealth/

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Building a Sustainable Future

Rick Ridgeway

This is a guest blog post from Rick Ridgeway, Vice President of Public Engagement at Patagonia, Inc. On April 6, Interface’s Erin Meezan participated in an ISSP webinar with Rick Ridgeway, of Patagonia, and John Tran, of Unilever.

As a follow-up to this webinar, we wanted to answer some questions we could not get to in the short time frame. One follows below, answered by Ridgeway.

What is Patagonia’s outlook towards sustainable buildings?
One of our corporate bylaws (and benefit purposes) is ‘conduct operations with no unnecessary harm.’ A large part of this corporate mandate applies to our own operations, so we take our own footprint and ‘cleaning up our own act first’ very seriously. We always try to minimize the impacts of our buildings to the greatest extent possible. For example, for retail stores we use repurposed materials from local sources as much as possible for store build-outs; at our Ventura campus we have solar panels and bioswales; and at our Reno distribution center we have a unique ‘air flush’ system that pumps cool air in at night to naturally regulate the temperature of the building.

Patagonia solar panels

Solar panels installed at the Patagonia headquarters. Photography courtesy of Patagonia. Credit: Tim Davis.

But, we also know what we are constrained at times, since we don’t own many of our locations, but rather are long-term tenants. So, we don’t have full control over the building systems or characteristics in many places. We try to approach each of our locations individually in context and see what we can do that is most feasible and impactful. We recently adopted a set of ‘Sustainable Building Principles’ that is largely based off of the International Living Futures Institute’s ‘Living Building Challenges’ criteria for sustainable buildings. These are principles that guide our building design and operations and integrated into our facilities, retail, and operations teams to implement.

For more information on Patagonia’s sustainable buildings, please visit: www.patagonia.com/resource-use.html

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Shifting the Game

Nadine Gudz

“Are you really a carpet company?” asked the City of Toronto’s Chief Planner, Jennifer Keesmaat. “I am just so inspired by what you are doing and that is an unexpected outcome of being here this afternoon.”

That’s just one of the comments I heard during an event that Interface and the David Suzuki Foundation convened in Toronto with an esteemed group of leaders from across many business sectors, including commercial real estate, energy, tech, banking, building and construction.

Our goal was to facilitate a dialogue with these leaders to spark new thinking and challenge one another to raise our ambition levels to address climate change. As we embark on our Climate Take Back mission, we’re eager to partner with other thought-leading, reputable, influential organizations to advance our thinking on carbon.

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Long time champion of the environment and world-renowned geneticist, Dr. David Suzuki opened with reflections on some of the first science-based research and early predictions he had seen on global warming in the 1970s and 80s. He lamented the slow, detrimental pace to address the largest issue facing humanity while atmospheric carbon continues to reach unprecedented levels. He reinforced how governments don’t tend to be the pioneers of change and that the business community has an opportunity to leverage its influence and innovate.

“We need to shift the game!” Dr. Suzuki exclaimed during his opening speech. He pointed to Ray Anderson as an example of a unique visionary who fundamentally understood the interconnectedness of life on Earth and redesigned his business accordingly. Sustainability just makes good business sense on a finite planet. Dr. Suzuki talked about Ray’s original vision for climbing Mount Sustainability to zero footprint and the relevance it still holds today for the business community.

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I found it quite meaningful to have the opportunity to reflect on the evolution of our journey with a thoughtful, iconic ambassador of the environment like Dr. Suzuki. He has been a long-time supporter of Interface. At the age of 81, Dr. Suzuki remains one of the world’s strongest, most passionate and insightful champions of sustainability.

Members of the audience asked for his perspective on the current political climate and how this will impact needed advancements. Dr. Suzuki said he refuses to lose hope and referred to US President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord as a gift to the rest of the world. The galvanizing of efforts around the world, including governments and business leaders stepping up to form new alliances and coalitions tells a very hopeful story.

Following Dr. Suzuki’s opening, Toronto’s Chief Planner Jennifer Keesmaat passionately reinforced how citybuilding is key to a healthy climate future. Addressing tensions between needs and wants is part of the challenge. She stressed the importance of learning to live “smaller,” drawing lessons from New York City where residents are among city dwellers living with the smallest environmental footprints in North America.

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I then had the honour of joining a panel discussion with Jennifer Keesmaat and Lisa Bate, green building guru and principal with B+H Architects, to share perspectives from industry and the building community. How do we go beyond zero carbon? Believing it’s possible is the first step. The group acknowledged that this can be hard when dominant media messaging is doom and gloom and explored the need to reframe the conversation. We have an opportunity to create the future that we want, but we start by asking what that looks like. Creating a climate fit for life needs more than the energy transition. It’s time to broaden our understanding of the carbon opportunity and shift it from a liability to a resource.

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In addition to sharing our Climate Take Back plan and Proof Positive prototype tile, the panel shared other examples of solutions underway, including Canadian innovations like Carbon Cure. Carbon Cure technology recycles waste carbon dioxide into greener, more affordable concrete products.

My biggest takeaway? Dr. Suzuki echoed what climate leaders said in our recent survey to climate leaders: business as usual is a barrier to creating a climate fit for life. The solutions exist and they are starting to shift the game, cultivating a new wave of climate optimism. Game on!

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Interface Celebrates +Positive spaces with Great People and Great Design

Savannah Weeks
HiP Award

David and Cindi Oakey celebrate the HiP Award win for Human Connections.

Interface brought home three HiP awards at NeoCon 2017 and continues to garner recognition for its successful sustainability leadership and manufacturing practices

Human Connections, David Oakey’s latest global collection for Interface, highlights the beauty of the outdoors through its unique interpretation of nature’s role in communities. The collection won for Interior Design’s HiP Award for Best Workplace flooring, a highly competitive award category.

Our talented designer (and expert parallel parker) Gretchen Wagner won Interior Design’s esteemed HiP Rising Star Award, and San Francisco-based superstar Account Executive Brandon Maddox took HiP Seller.

While creating beautifully designed products remains a critical function for Interface, we also maintain a commitment to the earth and creating a climate fit for life. We recently garnered accolades for leadership in sustainability and recycling, being named CARE’s Recycler of the Year for 2016. Our Net-Works program, which in partnership with the Zoological Society of London, empowers people in coastal communities in the developing world to collect and sell discarded nylon fishing nets, won Business Partnership of the Year from the U.K.’s National Recycling Awards.

In fact, Interface was recently recognized as a global sustainability leader for the 20th consecutive year in GlobeScan and SustainAbility’s annual Sustainability Leaders Survey. Earning third place this year, Interface is the only company to appear on the list each year since the study began in 1997, and held a place in the top four since 1998.

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Additionally, Jarami Bond, Manager of Sustainability, was recognized as a young leader by sustainability industry publication Greenbiz. Named one of 30 leaders under 30, Jarami was applauded for his commitment to Interface’s sustainability mission as well as his community involvement in Atlanta and college mentorship.

We thank and congratulate our employees for their well-deserved recognition. It’s their passion, talent and dedication that help us continue to create beautiful, sustainable and positive spaces.

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Climate Optimism in the Face of Political Change

Jay Gould

Today, Interface’s CEO Jay Gould shared a message with all global Interface employees encouraging Climate Optimism. We’ve decided to share that message with you here on the blog in the hopes that it will also inspire you, our blog readers, to continue to remain optimistic that together we can create a climate fit for life.

A Message from Jay Gould to All Interface Employees:
Climate Optimism in the Face of Political Change

Today, I’m writing to express my continued belief in Climate Optimism and our mission to create a climate fit for life. Despite today’s announcement that the United States would withdraw from the Paris Accord, I believe the world has awoken to the very real threat of climate change. And, Interface has an important role to play in this new movement.

Candidly, I’m disappointed with the United States’ position, and we, as Interface, encouraged the Administration to stay in the Paris Accord. However, we know from our journey over the past 23 years that life-changing movements do not require governmental policies or mandates. Now we must shine our light that business can operate in a way that reverses global warming.

Climate experts believe we can reverse global warming. In a recent survey, 95% of climate experts from around the world think our mission, Climate Take Back, is possible and provided examples of where and how this is already happening. Interface must be the voice of optimism to unleash human ingenuity in finding meaningful solutions.

95% of climate experts

Last week in London, Interface unveiled a first-of-its-kind prototype “carbon negative” carpet tile. Our “Proof Positive” carpet tile demonstrates how our material usage and manufacturing practices store more carbon dioxide than if it had not been manufactured. While still in prototype phase, this product indicates what is possible with Climate Take Back.

For nearly 25 years, Interface has pioneered the sustainability movement. Well, we need to step up once again, because now doing no harm is simply not enough. Please engage in our new mission, Climate Take Back. Become the voice of Climate Optimism in your community and in your work.

Jay

Jay Gould
CEO
Interface, Inc.

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