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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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Sustainable Cities Index 2015 – Ranking of 50 of the world’s leading cities

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Revised estimates suggest that the world’s population is likely to reach 9.6 billion by 2050 – 0.3 billion larger than under earlier UN projections. And for the first time in history, the majority of the world’s population lives in cities, with urbanization growing fastest in the developing world. Population in urban areas is projected to increase from 3.6 billion in 2011 to 6.3 billion in 2050. In many circumstances, city infrastructures are unable to keep pace with such rapid increases in population – nor the growth of their inhabitants’ demands. Among the 63 most populated urban areas (with 5 million or more inhabitants in 2011), 39 are located in regions exposed to a high risk of at least one natural hazard; 72 % are located on or near the coast; 2/3 are in Asia.

In order to tackle these issues we need to improve the quality of life and economic competitiveness, cities have to become sustainable communities, i.e. more resource-efficient and environmentally friendly with access to basic services, energy, housing and transportation – for all.

According to the Institute for Sustainable Cities “A sustainable community is one that is economically, environmentally, and socially healthy and resilient. It meets challenges through integrated solutions rather than through fragmented approaches that meet one of the goals at the expense of the others. This requires a long term perspective. One that is focused on both the present and future, beyond the next budget or election cycle.”

Key Findings Sustainable Cities Index

ARCADIS Sustainable Cities Index

The Sustainable Cities Index from ARCADIS, a global natural and built asset design and consultancy firm, explores the three demands of People, Planet and Profit to develop an indicative ranking of 50 of the world’s leading cities. The research examined 50 cities from 31 countries ranking them across a range of 20 indicators in 5 key areas (the economy, business, risk, infrastructure and finance) to estimate the sustainability of each city. A detailed, evidence-based metric is derived to quantify each city’s performance. The headline ranking can then be divided into three broad subcategories: People, Planet and Profit.

Overall the top ten and bottom ten cities in the 2015 Sustainable Cities Index are:

green city frankfurt

“Green City” Frankfurt am Main, Germany, Left picture:, Right picture:

Top ten:
1. Frankfurt
2. London
3. Copenhagen
4. Amsterdam
5. Rotterdam
6. Berlin
7. Seoul
8. Hong Kong
9. Madrid
10. Singapore

Bottom ten:
40. Rio de Janeiro
41. Doha
42. Moscow
43. Jeddah
44. Riyadh
45. Jakarta
46. Manila
47. Mumbai
48. Wuhan
49. New Delhi
50. Nairobi

Key findings:

The German cities of Frankfurt and Berlin lead the way in the Planet sub-ranking, scoring well for waste management and low levels of air pollution in particular.

Rotterdam tops the People sub-index. Many of the world’s economic powerhouses are becoming less affordable for their citizens, with the cost of property in New York, London, Paris, Tokyo and Hong Kong penalizing their rankings.

Asian cities show the most divergence, with Seoul, Hong Kong and Singapore in the top ten and Manila, Mumbai, Wuhan and New Delhi forming four of the bottom five cites.

No North American city makes it into the top ten.

Cities in the Middle East have seen the highest real term population growth over the past five years, with Doha, Dubai and Abu Dhabi experiencing a rise of over 30 %.

Conclusions drawn from the report:

Across the world, cities are performing better for being sustainable for Profit and Planet purposes, but are failing to sufficiently meet the needs of their People.

City leaders need to find ways to balance the demands of generating strong financial returns, being an attractive place for people to live and work in, whilst also limiting their damage to the environment.

City leaders in all 50 cities must plan for population increases over the coming 15 years, but the pressure on some is immense. Whilst Tokyo’s citizens are expected to increase by just 1 % by 2030, Nairobi’s population will grow by 121 % and Shanghai will grow by 54 % to over 30 million people.

The trade-off between Planet and Profit is most starkly seen in the Middle East where Dubai and Doha score much higher in Profit than Planet sustainability where they rank in the bottom four.

The full rankings can be found here.


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I recently joined more than 300 business leaders, policy-makers, academics and environmentalists to celebrate The Prince of Wales’s Corporate Leaders Group (CLG) 10th anniversary.

For the past 10 years, CLG has successfully brought together major companies with advanced sustainability innovations committed to influencing the political agenda and policy towards a green growth economy. The group has been widely recognised as one of the most consistent and outspoken voices in support of strong, pro-business policies on climate change. In particular, we have been lobbying for a stronger climate policy package, for strong energy efficiency policies and raising the issue of embodied, imported energy.

Members from both the EU and UK groups gathered at the anniversary event to hear from a variety of speakers, including the patron of the group, HRH Prince Charles, who reflected on the progress CLG and the wider community has made in addressing the threat of climate change since launching. He also recognised the crucial role the business sector has to play in tackling European environmental issues moving forward and announced the launch of a vision for a strong, sustainable UK economy.

Rob and prince of Wales

I have been a member of the EU Corporate Leaders Group, a strong business voice comprised of 23 leading companies that tries to encourage the EU to adopt ambitious sustainability targets, since January 2014. So, it was a pleasure to meet with HRH at this CLG event and be a part of such a key milestone, representing Interface as a member of the business community working to address environmental issues and build a better future.

Interface’s involvement with CLG started with Ramon Arratia who has for some time been a Fellow of the Cambridge Sustainable Leadership Programme, an institution within the University of Cambridge aimed at building leadership capacity to tackle critical global challenges.

As a CLG member, I have also been in Brussels several times over the last year to encourage EU Parliamentarians towards adopting an ambitious “2030 framework for climate and energy policies” without further compromise. Following is a picture of one my speaking engagements at the EU which shows how membership of the EU CLG really puts you into action.

Rob on stage

Other speakers at the 10th Anniversary event, which was brought together in collaboration with the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL), included the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change Ed Davey, Unilever CEO Paul Polman, former Kingfisher CEO Sir Ian Cheshire, former President of the European Commission José Manuel Barraso, and former European Commissioner for Climate Action Connie Hedegaard. Collectively, the speakers outlined the benefits of a number of new CLG factors, including an infographic to illustrate the group objectives, early and vocal support for the UK’s world-leading Climate Change Act, and the global target for net zero emissions.

Whatever we face next in the battle to tackle climate change throughout Europe and beyond, it is certain CLG and Interface will be playing a major role in ensuring environmental issues are top of the business agenda.

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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Visualisation of countries most vulnerable to climate change

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ND-GAIN Index has produced this visualisation of countries most vulnerable to climate change – it’s a project from the University of Notre Dame Global Adaptation Index (ND-GAIN).

It summarises vulnerability to climate change and other global challenges in combination with readiness to improve resilience. It aims to help businesses and the public sector better prioritise investments for a more efficient response to the immediate global challenges ahead.

Click on this link to view the original source data where you can manipulate view and zoom in on specific regions.

Thanks to

climate change

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Ellen MacArthur, The Circular Economy and Interface

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Circular Economy Ellen MacarthurIt is always great for a company to get a name check in the press or to be noticed in some way for good reasons. To be mentioned by Ellen Macarthur on the BBC website, and associated with something we hold so dear, is something of a triple whammy.

Here is an excerpt from her piece that includes the mention of Interface and Ray. Click on the image to read the full article about why it is so important that we all push for a Circular Economy:

“For a long time, the proponents of natural capitalism and the circular economy were voices crying in a business wilderness. One corporate leader who did take notice was the founder of one of the world’s biggest carpet companies, Interface.

The late Ray Anderson had what he called an epiphany 20 years ago, when his company was already 21 years old. It was then that he read an earlier book by Paul Hawken – The Ecology of Commerce. This argued that only industry leaders could reverse the destructive harm industry was doing to the planet.

Ray Anderson was stunned by this. In response, he turned it into a company cause, pledging to turn Interface into a sustainable company without any negative impact on the environment by 2020.

Sadly, he died in 2011 before that could be achieved, but the mission continues. And other businesses are waking up to this imperative.”

Source BBC

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Cost Per Lumen – The LED revolution

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Sometimes we get things a little bit right. And all too often we don’t celebrate these little wins. Here is a graph that details how LED light technology has changed our world as cost per lumen. It’s by no means a complete win but with energy requirements cut by up to 80% and our lights burning just as bright, it’s a great little reminder what can be done.

Cost per lumen


Source – Cambridge Uni Press

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