Mohawk Group and Humanscale broadened the conversation on sustainability with a series of talks illustrating how manufacturers are creating designs that contribute to healthy spaces, demonstrate product transparency, and give back to the environment. End users, architects, and designers were given a behind-the-scenes look at how Mohawk Group and Humanscale became the first two manufacturers to achieve the Living Product Challenge in their respective product categories: flooring and furniture.

“Sustainability Talk Series: How Transparency is Changing the World” was presented in Boston on Oct. 24, in New York on Oct. 25, and in Washington on Oct. 26. Featured speaker Jason F. McLennan is the founder of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and ILFI’s Living Product Challenge. The Living Product Challenge is a platform that sets the highest standards for commercial manufacturing practices and procedures and strategically aims to reconcile the relationship between humanity and the natural world.

Interest in Living Products is growing in the workplace, which makes up the largest percentage of all interior spaces. “With research showing we spend 90% of our time indoors, designers and end users in the workplace segment are keenly aware and highly selective when specifying products for their space,” said Mark Oliver, Mohawk Group vice president of workplace and retail segments. “They require more thoughtfully-designed products to ensure the happiness and well-being of their employees and associates. They also realize the product selections they make can have an impact on the environment around them and prefer selecting products that have a net positive impact on the environment versus those that are more wasteful. Workplace design today is leading the charge in high styled, highly sustainable manufacturing, and we at Mohawk are proud to be at the forefront.”

Mohawk received the first Living Product Challenge Petal certification in flooring for its Lichen carpet planks. Meeting the program’s place, water, and health and happiness Petals, the biophilic-designed collection is on track to give more resources back to the environment than it uses during its entire life cycle.

“We see the Living Product Challenge as almost a moral obligation,” Oliver said. “At Mohawk we believe in better, that as the leading flooring manufacturer in the world, it is our responsibility to lead, to innovate and to never be satisfied with the status quo. Mohawk isn’t done with simply launching one Living Product.”

Humanscale was awarded full Living Product Certification for its Diffrient Smart chair and Float table. Jane Abernethy, Humanscale sustainability officer, says Mohawk Group and Humanscale are fitting partners in this series on sustainability. “We share a vision that manufacturers can be part of the solution to our environmental issues, the tenacity to overcome many obstacles in pursuit of this vision and the willingness to change our operations to make this vision a reality.”

The talk series is meant to celebrate and appreciate those working toward greater sustainability and to educate those seeking to become involved. “We need to reset the conversation,” Abernethy said. “Often, environmental or social concerns are pitted against economic concerns—especially when people are afraid of change. Instead, the Living Product Challenge looks at how manufacturing can be part of the solution to social and environmental issues. Then, the world is made better off as the business grows.”

“But our job is far from done,” McLennan added. “Most products made for the building industry are still highly damaging to environmental health—and many are also bad for human health. We need the whole community—architects, interior designers, engineers, builders, developers—to stop specifying products that do more harm than good. It’s time to shed a light on better practices we can all be proud of.”

Oliver said Mohawk is thrilled with the relationship with ILFI and Humanscale. “Imagine: an end-use customer could have a full Living Product suite if they used our flooring and Humanscale’s furniture,” he said. “We look forward to continuing this event series throughout 2018 and talking to more people about the benefits of sustainability.”

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