Better World, What's Up
December 6, 2010
There is a Chinese proverb that reads, “The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The next best time is now.”
Those of us from Herman Miller’s office in Bangalore, India, agree.
Recently, members of our corporate social responsibility team were determined to create a better world by transforming our city’s surroundings. Six of us, plus several nearby residents, planted 140 trees across three streets in one day.
It was a stimulating experience, which also required a lot of teamwork. If one person planted a sapling, the other covered it with fertilizer and soil. When one of us was shielding a plant with the bamboo guard, the other was watering it.
The residents seemed pleased and happy with our contributions, and promised to water the plants daily.
We can’t wait to see what these trees will look like in 20 years.
Photos courtesy of Pradip Kumar Babou
Better World, Education
December 3, 2010
Herman Miller is celebrating the holiday season with its first book drive campaign. You can’t miss it—literally. Bright red Meridian bookcases are appearing at locations all over the country, including our six West Michigan facilities, participating dealerships, and more than 30 higher education campuses.
Education Solutions Director Jeff Vredevoogd came up with the idea to collect and provide books to local nonprofit organizations that want to share the gift of reading. The bookcase is part of the donation, too.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity that’s bringing together businesses, students, and faculty to create a better world for their communities,” he says.
Want to donate a book? You can make a donation to an organization, such as Better World Books, between now and December 15, 2010.
November 29, 2010
On a casual drive from the Baltic Sea to Thuringia, the “green heart of Germany,” the most striking feature of the landscape are the wind turbines. They are everywhere, on the hills, in the fields, in the sea— herds of them.
Turns out, Germany actually paid attention to the wake-up call delivered by the energy crisis in the 1970s and 80s. The country has been funding R&D and deploying mostly wind and solar forms of renewable energy ever since. Its Green Party became a political force in Germany after a series of chemical spills in the Rhine in the late 1980s.
Over the past two decades, Germany has become a global leader in renewable energy. In 2003, Germany had 40 percent of the world’s installed capacity for wind energy and was second only to Japan in installed photovoltaic (solar panels) energy.
As countries like Germany and companies like Herman Miller discovered long ago, meaningfully switching to renewable energy is a complex and challenging issue that requires a deep commitment, a long-term outlook, and a multi-faceted approach.
Photos courtesy of Anne Kunze.
November 19, 2010
At the recent Greenbuild conference, I had the chance to interview television journalist Lisa Ling. A special correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show and host of National Geographic’s Ultimate Explorer, she’s tenacious about reporting the stories of those who often don’t have a voice. She’s also an advocate for environmental sustainability—as we are—which led to her interest in attending the show.
“Everyone I’ve talked to is so enthusiastic about what they’re doing,” she says about the exhibitors. “Our country is in the midst of an economic catastrophe and this green movement is the answer to our economic woes. That’s why Greenbuild has the highest attendance numbers ever. People are intrigued by what’s going on here.”
Ling is no stranger to building green. She’s about to move into the first energy-neutral home in Santa Monica, California–it’s a place she hopes will inspire others to make their homes more environmentally friendly.
“I try to be the vehicle from which people hear about a situation, with the hope that they want to effect change,” she adds.
Catch Lisa Ling in her new series called “Our America” on the Oprah Winfrey Network, beginning in February 2011.
November 17, 2010
Every year, we put together our Better World report to let you know how we’re building a better world around you through environmental advocacy, inclusiveness and diversity, health and well-being, and community service. Are we perfect and do we always reach our goals? Of course not. Building a better world is not so much a goal as an everyday way of life.
Here are some highlights from the past fiscal year:
• Herman Miller employees logged 13,640 volunteer hours, exceeding the goal of 10,000.
Inclusiveness & Diversity:
• “Corporation of the Year” by Michigan Minority Supplier Development Council.
Health & Well-being
• 3rd consecutive year on FORTUNE’s 100 Best Companies to Work For.
• Surpassed overall footprint reduction goal with 91% overall reduction.
• 100% green electrical energy usage worldwide.
If you have any questions or comments about the report, please feel free to share them with us here.
November 15, 2010
We’re happy to add MBDC Cradle to Cradle (C2C) Silver certification to the list of “eco-creds” for the new, non-FR, U.S.-produced SAYL work chair. Combined with its GREENGUARD certification and the process of eco-dematerialization that was at the heart of Yves Béhar’s design, SAYL can proudly add “good to the environment” to its other attributes, including good looks, ergonomics, and great price point.
Better World, Healthcare
November 12, 2010
Back in September, Herman Miller Healthcare announced the names of those selected for its 2010 scholarship program for intern architects.
As part of the scholarship program, the company will sponsor the attendance of nine individuals at this year’s Healthcare Design conference in Las Vegas, November 13-16.
I thought it would be fun to catch-up with the scholarship recipients before the conference to find out what interests them about healthcare design and architecture. And, because creating a better world is important to Herman Miller, I specifically asked them how they think healthcare design and architecture can contribute to a better world.
Check out their thoughts about the subject:
Visions in Architecture, Lincoln, NE
It is in a designer’s best interest to provide value to healthcare architecture—value created with better design through increased collaboration, new techniques and time for reflection. Future designers will need all three if they are to create a better world.
Better World, What's Up
November 11, 2010
Over the years, we’ve received some national and international recognition for everything from our products and processes to our practices and even our picnic posters. Recently we were named the first recipient of the Excellence in Business award, sponsored by the Zeeland, Michigan, Chamber of Commerce, in honor of former Chamber president Ann Query. The award is given for business excellence and contribution to the community.
Zeeland is our hometown and the hometown of our first president, D.J. De Pree. Community service is a way of life here. (One example: The Holland/Zeeland area CROP Walk has raised more than $100,000 for 23 consecutive years.) To be recognized by our own community, where the bar is set so high, makes this award special.
“Herman Miller’s employees aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty volunteering,” said Jim Schoettle, Chamber president. Jay Link, manager of corporate giving at Herman Miller agrees: “The award is a tribute to our employees, who consistently give back to the community in lasting and tangible ways.”
D.J. believed that “A business is rightly judged by its product and service — but must also face scrutiny and judgment as to its humanity.” We’re pretty sure this hometown award, more than any of the others, would make him proud.
Design, What's Up
November 10, 2010
Back in October, I attended a celebration for the build of our one millionth Mirra chair! What is so special about that? Well, the Mirra chair was the first product launched under our Design for the Environment protocol.
I asked Gabe Wing, Senior Environmental Manger for Herman Miller, what that means for the chair. He said it means that the design of this chair took into account the chemical makeup of the components, disassembly, and recyclable materials in the construction of the chair. That makes the sale of a million chairs in its eight-year history pretty special for everyone involved—as well as knowing that we contributed to the health of our environment one million times!
With the help of a web cam connection, the designers of the Mirra chair, Studio 7.5 in Berlin, Germany, and the entire Mirra production team were able to celebrate together and share stories about the ideas behind the design. The enthusiasm of the Studio 7.5 team was contagious!
November 2, 2010
I recently returned from Ann Arbor where University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business hosted the 18th Annual Net Impact Conference. Net Impact is a global organization with over 20,000 MBA students and professionals who believe that businesses can help build a better world.
Herman Miller has been involved with this conference for the past five years. Our executives have led keynote speeches and employees have participated in panel discussions and managed our presence at the expo and career fair.
This year we decided to participate in a new way. Before and during the event, we used Twitter to ask conference attendees the following questions:
What does a better world look like to you?
Share with us some companies, organizations, or individuals who you think are helping build a better world.
Replies were sent to @HermanMiller, in 140 characters or less, with hashtags #NI10 and #betterworld. And if those who answered the questions stopped by our booth at the expo, we gave them a bag made from excess material gathered at our seating production facility.
The bags were a hit and we learned a lot from this experiment. Most importantly, it was a fun and new way to tap into the energy of this dynamic conference.