Extending Zero Footprint Goal to Supply Chain
Our supply chain accounts for approximately 80 percent of Herman Miller’s total environmental impact. Based on this, we asked a sampling of core suppliers to commit to a long-term date to get to a zero footprint along with Herman Miller. They must track and show an ongoing reduction in their air emissions, landfill, process water use, energy, and hazardous waste. We also evaluated suppliers on how they are supporting our efforts to reduce the amount of environmentally harmful chemicals from our product or how they help us improve our use of sustainable practices. Most suppliers enthusiastically jumped on board with us. One even took our zero footprint goal to their suppliers. More suppliers will be added over the next three years.
Fiscal year 2012 was a successful year showing overall improvement. Our environmental footprint was reduced by three percent. In other words, our reduction to our 1994 baseline year increased from 88 to 91 percent. Sales from Design for the Environment-approved products rose by six percent over fiscal 2011. Development of extended environmental goals is well underway.
We reduced our operational footprint by more than two percent over the previous year. Although our goal was a 92 percent reduction against our baseline year, we are pleased with a 91 percent reduction—up from last year’s 88 percent.
VOC Emissions to Air
Between 1994 and 2012, Herman Miller recorded an 83 percent decline, a two percent improvement over 2011. Air emissions decreased by a sizable 5.6 tons from fiscal 2011. This remarkable decrease was mostly from changing paint colors used on non-visible surfaces of our Healthcare products from solvent-based to water-based paint.
To achieve our goal of zero hazardous waste generation by 2020, we have reduced the use of hazardous materials in every aspect of the manufacturing process. The number of our facilities that release toxic chemicals has been reduced from seven to one, and the number of toxic chemicals that we use in our facilities from twelve to two. The reduction from the 1993/94 baseline year moved from a 95 percent reduction to 94 percent.
We regret to say that hazardous waste increased by 5.8 tons. The major contributor is the sodium bicarbonate used at our Energy Center (to counter hydrochloric acid found in the emissions). The sodium bicarbonate continues to be disposed of as hazardous waste until we can find a solution. We believe we are close.
Solid Waste to Landfill
Our goal is to deposit no solid waste in landfills by 2020. In fiscal 2012, we saw a huge improvement on our way to zero landfill (or 100 percent reduction). Landfill decreased by a whopping 883 tons. Our improvements drove us to a 97 percent reduction from our 1994 baseline year. Only three percent left to go.
Process Water Use and Quality
We are also pleased to report that process water use decreased by 6.6 million gallons. Our incremental improvements have gotten us to a 75 percent reduction in process water use.
Last year, we reported that, as of May 1, 2010, we were using 100 percent renewable electrical energy in all our facilities worldwide by purchasing certified Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) and continuing a long-term Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with our local electric provider. This continued for fiscal year 2012.
Design for the Environment (DfE) Initiative
Designing our products with consideration for their environmental impact is a central corporate strategy. We’re focused on incorporating environmentally sustainable materials, features, and manufacturing processes into our new product designs.
Since we try to incorporate recycled materials into all of our products, we carefully monitor each product’s weight and the percentage of recycled content used. We work to balance a high percentage of recycled content with our desire to provide the most environmentally safe materials.
Wood from Responsibly-Managed Forests
We acquired Forest Stewardship Council™ (FSC®) Chain of Custody Certification at our Zeeland, Michigan, Main Site manufacturing facility in 2007. In 2011, we expanded the scope of our certification to include our Spring Lake, Michigan, facilities making filing and storage products.
In 2010, Herman Miller became the first large contract furniture manufacturer to incorporate ecoScorecardSM into its product catalog. Herman Miller ecoScorecard is a free, web-based technology platform providing environmental information and sustainability documentation about products for all major green building rating systems. We continue to work to expand our product catalog on ecoScorecard in order to make pursuing LEED certification easier.
Architecture and architects are important to us and to our business. We helped found the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and our 1995 GreenHouse building won LEED Pioneer status in light of its environmentally sound, aesthetically pleasing, and financially beneficial qualities.
Today, we are committed to building or renovating our facilities to achieve at least LEED Silver criteria. We have 15 LEED-rated projects in North America, Europe, and Asia including the most recent LEED-CI Gold and Platinum certifications for our showrooms in San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Habitat Restoration and Protection
Several of our West Michigan building sites feature native flowers and grasses, as well as retaining ponds that support a diversity of plant and animal life. Our commitment to habitat includes a goal of 50 percent green space for our major sites. For facilities that require regular grounds keeping, we use a phosphorus-free fertilizer to prevent harmful runoff into surrounding natural areas.
The rePurpose Program: Helping the Community and the Environment
Our rePurpose program provides new life for no-longer-needed office furniture and other items in a socially responsible, economically viable way. We take used office furniture from our customers and match it with non-profit groups. In 2011 rePurpose diverted 1,969 tons of assets from landfill, reflecting a 99.4 percent diversion rate.
Next: Community Service >