Parnell of InterfaceFLOR highlights the relevance of sustainability in today’s challenging times
Hyderabad, September, 2009: Speaking at the Green Building Congress 2009, Mr. Lindsey Parnell highlighted the importance of sustainability in today’s challenging times and said that by ensuring that business decisions are weighed against their potential impact on economic, natural and social systems, businesses could deliver superior value to customers and shareholders. He added, “It is not enough for business heads to call for sustainability within their organizations. They need to lead by example and encourage a company culture where sustainability is everyone’s responsibility and governs every business decision made.”
Mr. Parnell is the CEO and President of InterfaceFLOR EMEAI, the modular flooring division of Interface Inc., based in Atlanta, USA. The company is a worldwide leader in the production of environmentally responsible modular floor coverings and other textiles. InterfaceFLOR has won numerous design and innovation awards for its market-leading modular floor covering products. In addition, it has also become widely recognised as a pioneer in sustainable manufacturing and business practices, and has won many prestigious accolades for its environmental initiatives. According to environmental experts, as outlined in the most recent survey by Globescan, Interface is the world’s most sustainable business.
Mr. Parnell was speaking on the business challenges, opportunities and benefits of sustainability. He made a compelling case for companies to become environmentally conscious by sharing the experiences at InterfaceFLOR.
Business and industrialism developed in a different world from the one we live in today: fewer people, less material well-being, plentiful natural resources. What emerged was a highly productive, take-make-and-waste system that assumed infinite resources with little to no thought given to its impact. Today, that system no longer enhances our prosperity; instead, it is endangering it. When Interface saw itself as part of this system and the collective problem, we began a journey in a different direction, toward sustainability.
During the mid nineties, the company’s founder and Chairman, Ray Anderson, put Interface on track to becoming the first sustainable company by 2020. Now defined as ‘Mission Zero’, the company’s drive to achieve zero environmental footprint is a central part of the organisation’s ethos and culture.
InterfaceFLOR addresses sustainability on seven fronts. These involve eliminating waste and harmful emissions; maximizing use of renewable energy; recycling waste materials and reusing products; developing resource efficient transportation methods; creating a culture that integrates the principles of sustainability into working lives; and developing new ways of doing business and methods of delivering value to customers, focusing on the services delivered by multiple life cycles of its products.
He stressed that one should use innovation so that ‘less is more’. At InterfaceFLOR, this technique has enabled the company to use less material, less energy, less water, less money and make less waste to achieve the same quality and durability standards in their products.
Today, Interface stands at the forefront of a new industrial revolution. The Company has reduced its environmental footprint significantly, redesigning processes and products, pioneering new technologies and reducing or eliminating waste and harmful emissions while increasing the use of renewable materials and sources of energy.
Interface has made tremendous progress and notable achievements from 1996 baseline include 71% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions; 44% reduction in energy consumption per unit of production and 72% reduction in water intake per unit of production. The company’s manufacturing units operate on 100% green electricity, of which 89% is renewable. Recycled bio-based materials make up for 24% of the raw materials used. These initiatives have produced impressive results netting the company US$ 405 million in cumulative avoided waste costs.
Guided by the vision of Ray Anderson, InterfaceFLOR has shown the entire industrial world what sustainability is in all its dimensions: people, process, product, place and profits and in doing so, to become restorative through the power of influence.
Interface believes that if, a petro-intensive company like themselves, can get it right, it will never have to take another drop of oil from the earth. The philosophy guiding Ray’s passion for this cause is simply that it is not only the right thing to do, but the smart thing, too.
The company’s aim is to move from the traditional industrial approach of ‘take, make, waste’ and move towards a more natural or cyclical system of material and resource flows. Encouraging other companies to follow its lead in resource friendly manufacturing policies and processes is also a central part of the environmental mission.
Lindsey Parnell added, “The Interface journey toward sustainability has been a momentous shift in the way we operate our business and see the world. You will find a journey that is marked by innovation, as we completely reimagined and redesigned everything we do, including the most basic ways in which we define our business. We believe the Interface journey can be a model for business in the next industrial revolution.”
Concluding his lecture, Lindsey Parnell pointed out that sustainability is not only relevant in today’s economic climate, but vital for continued success and growth in the future.
About Interface Inc.
Interface is a recognised leader in the commercial interiors market, offering floor coverings and fabrics. The company is committed to the goal of sustainability and doing business in ways that minimise the impact on the environment while enhancing shareholder value.
Interface was founded in 1973 by Chairman, Ray Anderson, considered to be a pioneer from the start - a trailblazer of the modular carpet industry in the United States. The company promotes sustainable business practices - within its global community and in the products it makes. For Interface, sustainability is a belief that is built into the business model, an underlying corporate value, ensuring that business decisions are weighed against their potential impact on economic, natural and social systems. It's a means for associates to deliver superior value to customers and shareholders.
Interface is a global company with manufacturing locations on four continents and offices in more than 100 countries.