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Posts by Ramon Arratia

The European Environment – Status and Outlook 2015 report

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The European Environment Agency (EEA) has produced its 2015 report about the status and outlook of the European environment.

Some interesting facts from the report:

* The environment industry sector, which produces goods and services that reduce environmental degradation and maintain natural resources, grew by more than 50% in size between 2000 and 2011.  It looks impressive but I think it should have grown much faster.

* European greenhouse gas emissions have decreased by 19% since 1990 despite a 45% increase in economic output.

* Fossil fuel use has declined, as have emissions of some pollutants from transport and industry.

* The EU’s total resource use has declined by 19% since 2007, less waste is being generated and recycling rates have improved in nearly every country.

* Current policy is insufficient to bring the EU onto a pathway towards its 2050 target of reducing emissions by 80–95%.

* In 2011, about 430 000 premature deaths in the EU were attributed to fine particulate matter (PM2.5).

* Exposure to environmental noise is estimated to contribute to at least 10 000 premature deaths due to coronary heart disease and strokes each year.

* The growing use of chemicals, particularly in consumer products, has been associated with an observed increase of endocrine diseases and disorders in humans.

The European Environment - Status and Outlook 2015 report

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Is a National Resource Council the solution for the UK’s resource efficiency problem?

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The Government needs a National Resources Council to co-ordinate cross-governmental action on resources and channel political interest into policy development. An early act of this council should be to commission an independent review of resource risk to develop a strategy and framework for assessing where government intervention on resources is required.

“Profit warnings, excessive inflation and falling real wages have all been connected with the fluctuating cost of resources in the 21st century. These threats are motivating businesses and countries to reduce the quantity of resources they use and increase their productivity, to stay competitive in the global market.”

UK resource governance for the 21st century:

UK resource governance for the 21st century

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Carpet Tile with the lowest carbon footprint. Ever.

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Find out how we achieved the smallest carbon footprint ever with Microsfera. The carbon footprint is the single most significant impact of a carpet tile. That’s why we call it ‘the magic metric’. Over time various developments in the carpet industry have led to a shrinking carbon footprint. Microsfera is a big step forward. Even compared to a typical carpet tile using 100% recycled nylon, the carbon footprint of Microsfera is less than half the size.

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Are the EU Emissions Trading Scheme reforms ambitious enough?

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stock-marketOn Feb 24th EU MEPs voted to reform the Emissions Trading Scheme (ETS). It was a system that did not work because too many allowances were given to carbon polluting sectors. Also, with the price of carbon so low at 8EUR, it had very little chance of gaining any real traction by generating the right kinds of investments.

Early analysis suggests that with the new reforms the carbon price could increase to between 17EUR and 35EUR by 2020. Well, even at 17EUR it’s still simply too low. Another issue I have is why we need to wait until 2018? All this does is give three more years to carbon intensive fat cat businesses. Sandbag also argues that it would create little incentive for gas and coal power incentives to trade ETS allowances in advance.

One silver lining is that thanks to other energy efficiency policies and innovations,  electricity consumption will fall faster than expected.

Read more about The ETS reform vote from Carbon Brief here. An open letter from various leading businesses (CLG) asking for more ambitious goals is here, and Sandbag’s latest report about allowances surplus and the need to fix the ETS now is here.

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Is Radical Energy efficiency possible?

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BP Statistical World Energy 2014 by Carbon BriefI was reading this article recently which states that since 2006 energy use in Europe has dropped by 10%, and is now at 90s levels. On one hand this is great news but I can’t help but think that we haven’t tried particularly hard. I’ve seen with my own eyes how we have increased energy efficiency by 54% at Interface Europe since 1996, and I’m constantly amazed that we continue to find quick wins year on year.

Applying product standards is a quick way to save on energy. We could be much more stringent when applying standards across all energy using products from white goods, TVs, servers, cars, etc. We could also start touching on the potential of product design to save embedded carbon. Today there is carpet on the market with 20kgCO2/m2 and carpet for 3kgCO2/m2. Both pay the same tax. So no incentives to sell or buy the better products.

Another way of looking at increasing efficiency is the sector approach. We have come a long way with automotive but the revolution could go much further – Construction is almost a virgin territory. A strong minimum efficiency standard could be enacted Europe-wide measuring KwH/m2 of heating and cooling for new buildings. Embedded carbon could also be regulated because EPDs for all building materials are becoming available. Building renovation has great potential too – According to Renovate Europe, imported gas used by buildings could be reduced by 61% by 2030.

Public sector expenditure is another area for quick wins. For example, we could replace lighting in cities with the super efficient kind. Phillips just announced a program with the Madrid local council to change all city lighting, delivering a 44% energy saving.

Let’s also look at big industry. Today there are technologies that pay back relatively quickly. Here are some of the initiatives that we have applied at Interface: Insulation of hot equipment, air curtains for doors, password-locked thermostats, reuse of cold air and heat, storage space kept at 5C, switched to high efficiency boilers, spot heating instead of heating entire factory halls, installing valves that prevent heat escaping, installing Building Management Systems, reduced cooling to the bare minimum, switched to LEDs, reduced use of compressed air and fixed air leakages regularly. These simple technologies are already available and you could argue are not particularly radical, but our combined efforts certainly will be.

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Net-Works Awards – #Interface

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Net-WorksIt’s sometimes feels a little strange to blow your own trumpet! but I have to say I’m exceptionally proud to be with Interface and to have won these awards for our Net-Works initiative. The teams involved work exceptionally hard and it’s important that their work is recognised – well done all.

Social Enterprise Transformation Award (The Netherlands)

Net-Works was integral in securing the Social Enterprise Transformation Award in the Netherlands. We received recognition for our long-term efforts as well as our ambassadorship and the real partnerships we have established.

KYOCERA Environmental Prize (Germany)

In February Interface won the KYOCERA Environment Prize in the category “Biodiversity, Water & Natural Protection”. Former German Federal Environment Minister Professor Klaus Töpfer presented the prize of €25,000 at the Stuttgart Future Forum initiated by Fraunhofer IAO. Jury member Jörg Dürr-Pucher, chief representative of the German Environmental Agency, praised Net-Works as an outstanding initiative in his speech. We used the prize money to support the work of ZSL in establishing the Net-Works programme in the Philippine municipality of Guiuan, which was almost completely destroyed by typhoon Hayan. Net-Works made an important contribution to getting people back on their feet.

Architizer A+ Award (USA)

Now in its third year, The Architizer A+ Awards are the definitive global architectural award program with 90+ categories and over 300 judges. The award ceremony was held in New York City during the city’s design week, NYCxDesign and right before the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF).  An online public vote determined Net-Works the Popular Choice winner in the “Products+Sustainability” category with votes from over 100 countries and territories.

Ethical Corporation: Responsible Business Award (United Kingdom)

Having perhaps the longest list of nominees, the category of “Best Business/NGO Partnership” was one of the hardest to choose from at Ethical Corporation’s Fifth Annual Responsible Business Awards ceremony in London. About 400 entries were received this year, covering a range of sectors and industries from all over the world. The judges were looking for entries that clearly demonstrated how the company had incorporated responsible sustainability thinking into various areas of business, linking it back to commercial objectives. Interface and ZSL were in one category with well-known multinational companies and NGOs such as Marks and Spencer and Good World Solutions, Shell and the Global Alliance for Clean Cookstoves and Starwood Hotels & Resorts and UNICEF. The judges gave Net-Works the best review: “It’s a real social business project, economically successful and one that creates a truly sustainable business model.”

SEA Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award (Austria)

Together with about 250 guests from business, science, politics and society, the third SEA Gala was held in Vienna on 7 October. Net-Works was awarded the SEA Sustainable Entrepreneurship Award for “Best Project”. The award included a prize of €10,000. We were pleased to apply this amount to setting up the infrastructure for the extension of the project to Cameroon.

European Business Awards for the Environment (EBEA)

Last but certainly not least was the European Business Awards for the Environment, awarded once every two years by the EU. Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Commissioner Karmenu Vella said: “To strengthen the European economy, businesses should strive to put eco- innovation at the heart of their business model and the five winners of EBAE are excellent examples of this. These businesses, both large and small, prove that environmental and business performance can go hand in hand.”

These and other awards prove how powerful Net-Works is: helping us to grow our influence and continue to create a robust dialogue with our external stakeholders.

Another major Net-Works highlight was Nigel Stansfield’s presentation at the Clinton Global Initiative in New York. Part of the Clinton Foundation, the Clinton Global Initiative was established to engage world leaders and game-changers to tackle some of the world’s toughest challenges. Nigel announced our Commitment to Action: to open three new Net-Works collection hubs over three years, and to positively impact 10,000 people with this programme by 2020. To learn more about the results of that event: click here

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‘Show the love’ – A cross-party commitment on #climate change

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On Valentine’s Day a joint climate change pledge was signed by the leaders of the three main political parties in the UK as part of their run-up to the General Election in May.

This joint statement pledges action on climate change regardless of the outcome of the election and includes commitments to a strong, legal and binding global deal in #Paris2015 that is consistent with the 2 degrees goal – to work together to agree future UK carbon budgets, and to accelerate the transition to a low carbon economy, including an end to generation from unabated coal power (no end date specified).

CLG Pledge by main parties on climate change

Via Sandrine and Eliot at


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Proud to be involved in the Friends of the Earth Office Fit-out

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This week I’ve been at the new offices of Friends of the Earth near Oval in London. I am proud to have been involved in the fit-out and I think it’s great how they’ve applied our products in their carpet design.

The environmental campaigning charity required a flooring solution that would create an inspirational space for workers to enjoy, whilst having a low environmental impact to reflect their values.

A colour scheme was chosen to reflect the ‘what if the world was flat’ design developed by Peldon Rose, showcasing all aspects of their global reach; from the rainforest to the Arctic.

To meet the desired criteria, Peldon Rose enlisted us to provide sustainable modular flooring from our biophilic-inspired Urban Retreat and Net Effect Ranges and the Palette 2000 collection.

Iceberg Meeting Pod and Open Plan (2) Open Plan Office Polar Region Touchdown Point

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