April 22, 2011
At this year’s Fortune Brainstorm Green conference, some of the most recognized people influencing environmental sustainability took center stage with support provided by our Setu chairs. Bill McDonough and Sir Richard Branson, for example, were among the presenters. They said some wild things. Dave Steiner, CEO of Waste Management, predicted a future where his company will pay customers for their trash because he can extract so much value from it by repurposing, reusing, and recycling it. Or Sir Richard Branson announcing Virgin Oceanic, a super sub designed to take one person to the bottom of the world’s oceans as a way to further our understanding of this huge resource.
Another great—and practical—addition to this year’s conference came from AT&T. The company provided a charging station powered by wind and solar energy. This was a relief to many tweeters and bloggers who had the power they needed to make their posts accessible to everyone.
New this year, Herman Miller offered attendees a chance to nominate a 501c3 non-profit organization of their choice for the chance to win $25,000 worth of Herman Miller furniture. And today we’re pleased to announce Urban Prep Academies as the recipient.
Based in Chicago, Urban Prep operates a network of all-boys public schools including the country’s first charter high school for boys. Urban Prep’s mission is to provide a high-quality and comprehensive college-preparatory educational experience to young men that results in graduates succeeding in college.
Urban Prep Academies was selected at random from the entries submitted by conference delegates at our onsite mobile station. The new Herman Miller products will help Urban Prep Academies do its good works even better—and make a better world for all of us.
April 1, 2011
As the words “green” and “sustainability” become part of business vernacular, it shouldn’t be a surprise that hundreds, if not thousands, of conferences have emerged to discuss these topics. The conference we never miss is Fortune Brainstorm GREEN, held this year in Laguna Nigel, California, April 4-6.
Fortune, together with its program partners, The Nature Conservancy, NRDC, and the Environmental Defense Fund, gathers, as it describes, “the smartest people we know” in sustainability from business, government, and NGOs.
Since 2009, Herman Miller has been a major sponsor of this dynamic event. We enjoy contributing to it, but we feel that we gain even more through the rich conversations and relationships we build there.
We’ll be live tweeting from the conference, so follow us @hermanmiller for real-time updates. Or you can also follow @brainstormgreen or search for hashtag #FortuneGreen to get an inside look into all of the discussions happening during the conference.
And, though it’s too late to join the conference in person, you can virtually participate in some of the sessions via video stream.
Better World, Design
August 30, 2010
When a premier designer and manufacturer of high performance electric cars offers to stop by for a visit, you know you’re doing something right. This was the case with Tesla Motors.
On its way to Saugatuck, Michigan, for a stop on its Electric Summer Roadster Tour, Tesla visited our Design Yard facility with its new Roadster.
Long-time admirers of our environmental goals and achievements, those at Tesla thought it would a neat experience to show us what they’re up to.
We’re so glad they did.
On a sunny Friday afternoon, several employees gathered in the parking lot to ogle, admire, and even test drive the Fusion Red beauty.
Some got a little carried away.
Even a local reporter joined the fun.
It’s unknown if anyone was able to validate the car’s ability to get from 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds, but it looks like a few of them had fun trying.
Better World, Design, Products
June 15, 2010
Building green is a significant way to create a better world and ecoScorecard is a tool that improves the process. ecoScorecard is a free, web-based technology platform that gives product manufacturers the ability to provide environmental information and sustainability documentation about products for LEED and other third-party rating systems. It takes the hours, weeks, and sometimes months out of the documentation process.
Herman Miller is the first major contract furniture manufacturer to incorporate ecoScorecard into its product catalog. Its goal is to improve the time it takes to deliver environmental documentation to end users such as building owners, architects, designers, and product specifiers.
Like most of the business world, we see Herman Miller as a leader in sustainable business practices. It recognizes that ecoScorecard can help all manufacturers make the documentation process easier. In fact, the company is working with us to get other firms in the commercial interiors market to use the platform. And this isn’t about just Herman Miller or a competitive advantage. Its President and CEO, Brian Walker, and Environmental team all want the hassle of the documentation process to become a thing of the past for the entire building industry.
This summer and fall, we’ll be visiting architecture and design firms to share more information about the benefits of ecoScorecard. Send us an e-mail if you’d like to know more about these events.
Better World, Herman Miller Journal
May 14, 2010
If you’ve ever meandered the paths in the rolling landscape around Herman Miller’s GreenHouse facility, you might not think you’re on the grounds of a manufacturing plant. But flowers and trees and critters are exactly what you’ll find surrounding the GreenHouse. Even the name of the building reminds you of the natural environment.
The bees in the apiary on the east end of the property pollinate this landscape and help it to blossom each spring and summer. (Learn more about Herman Miller’s honey bees in this video, “Sweeter Solution.”)
Facing north, truck trailers are framed by a hillside designed to be left wild.
Just over the rise is a pond where geese congregate and a pair of resident swans call home. This landscape—in all its wildness—is not the result of a neglectful, uncaring owner. Instead it’s an example of how Herman Miller incorporates our environmental policy to provide green spaces around each of our facilities.
I’m sure many of us drive to and from work, hardly noticing the beauty of our surroundings. Personally, I enjoy taking a closer look at the residents we share this space with: Songbirds, bees, dragonflies, butterflies, ducks, geese, and swans—just to name a few—call this space home. We pass these neighbors every day to enter our workplace, which sits in the middle of their outdoor habitat.
Even the grass at this facility is special. Instead of the usual manicured lawns that adorn most commercial building grounds, Herman Miller has chosen a variety of buffalo grass, which requires less water than other grasses, and very little mowing. Every few years, we conduct a controlled burn, which helps the grass thrive the same way it would in a wild environment.
For much of the year, all around the GreenHouse the grounds bloom with a variety of wildflowers and provide habitat for a multitude of creatures. It’s one way we help create a better world around us.
Better World, Herman Miller Journal, What's Up
April 26, 2010
Herman Miller is proud to be among the activists, educators, and businesspeople honored on Earth Day as one of 16 inaugural Michigan Green Leaders.The award recognizes those who are working to make Michigan’s economy and communities sustainable and vibrant.
From planting trees and recycling trash into art supplies, to making campuses, industrial sites, and a resort into environmental models, the Green Leaders range from huge corporations to tiny nonprofits and individuals. And they’re working to make Michigan a cleaner, greener place to live.
One of the judges for the award, Rick Plewa, senior vice president for sustainability for Comerica, said, “I was simply amazed at how many people are working on green issues and have been for a long time. It filled me with optimism for Michigan’s future.”
At Herman Miller, sustainability has been part of our heritage since our founder, D.J. De Pree, said, “We will be a good steward of the environment.” That was 1953. Since then, we’ve innovated new ways of preserving and living with the natural environment. We’ve also helped found associations that help other companies do the same. These days, we remain committed to getting rid of the negatives–waste and contamination. But we don’t think that’s enough. As our CEO, Brian Walker, says, “The attitude we’ve adopted is to go beyond eliminating the negative to creating a positive. We’re constantly pushing ourselves to go beyond what is required.”
Check out our 2020 “Perfect Vision” goals to see what we’re aiming to accomplish. (We’ve already achieved one of them: 100% green energy.)
Better World, Herman Miller Journal
April 22, 2010
One hundred percent green energy: One 2020 Perfect Vision goal achieved—in 2010. And we’re awfully proud about it at Herman Miller. But so what?
“So what” is that we were able to accomplish this goal due to the cost saving suggestions of our very own employees, rather than spending additional money.
Good business and sustainable business are accepted as one and the same and it’s deeply ingrained here at Herman Miller. Couple this with an environment where good ideas—no matter where they come from—are valued, and you have a cauldron of innovative and eco-friendly solutions.
There have been many ideas over the years that have helped Herman Miller save money and reach our 100% green energy goal. And there have been those that didn’t originally seem like a good idea, but have proven their worth and changed some of our own minds.
One example is the use of winding heaters on the big dust collector motors in our manufacturing facilities. (A winding heater uses the motor’s own internal wiring to keep it warm and avoid stress, which can occur by frequent stopping and starting during cold temperatures.) Roger Bosch, one of our master electricians, suggested using the winding heaters to help regulate the motors in the dust collectors. He figured Herman Miller could save operating expenses by having the option to turn off the motors when they weren’t in use. At first, some people were skeptical, but after closer evaluation the project was indeed a money saver. Energy manager Jerry Akers said the payback saved Herman Miller a “bucket load.” Overall, it’s estimated that the winding heaters will eventually help us save more than $52,000/year, nearly 700,000 kWh, and around 500 tons of carbon.
Not bad for a little people power, trust, and a penchant for sustainability.
Better World, Herman Miller Journal
April 21, 2010
Each year, we consume an estimated 500 billion plastic bags worldwide—equal to over one million bags per minute. Currently, it’s actually more expensive to recycle plastic bags and bring them back into the market than it is to make new ones.
Engage in Change is an effort established by a team of Herman Miller employees to engage coworkers in a way to create reusable grocery bags from Herman Miller’s scrap textile material. Another great benefit is that the project aligns with our environmental goals: Every time people use reusable bags rather than plastic, they are helping the environment.
Beginning in January, employees came together to sew and assemble reusable bags from scrap fabric—and to have a good time doing it. The project ran through April, in time to celebrate Earth Day. Over 80 volunteers sewed five bags to donate and were able to keep one bag for themselves. The sewing occurred at our GreenHouse facility—where our seating upholstery is done—and at the homes of our sewing-savvy coworkers. Volunteers made more than 500 bags over the course of the project, utilizing more than 500 yards of scrap fabric.
The bags were given to employees who participated in a company-sponsored Earth Day activity, such as the Adopt-a-Highway program or our annual Earth Day recycling event. A big thanks to all of those employees who helped make this project happen!
Better World, What's Up
September 7, 2009
Business Review West Michigan has chosen Herman Miller as a Green Champion in its inaugural Green Awards. We’re one of nearly 100 nominations—including businesses and individuals—that exemplify the spirit of sustainability by pushing the boundaries of green business.
July 27, 2009
The next time you brush your teeth and leave the water running, think about some of these facts that point to a worldwide water shortage.