That is the beauty of Pechakucha: 20 seconds per slide and only 20 slides is just 400 seconds to tell your story. Grab the audience’s attention early, move quickly, and be concise, and you will be successful.
Brian Malarkey, author of the “We spend 19% of our money on cars” quote, spent 400 seconds (6:40) making the case for a better approach to energy consumption. He feels that the future will require us to explore and support alternative transportation options, not just rely on cars.
Brian was among eight presenters who answered the question, “What does it mean to be a sustainable city?” as part of a themed Pechakucha (PK) event held in Herman Miller’s Houston showroom. From the built environment, to conserving the natural environment, to sustainability as a public-policy issue, everyone delivered a unique perspective on the theme
Sustainability is an important topic for Houston as it challenges itself to become a truly sustainable city. And for Herman Miller as well, as we move closer to our goal of zero waste by 2020.
Checkout Pechakucha’s website to find a PK near you, and for information on starting your own event.
We’ve been working to get to zero operational footprint by 2020. Right now we’re 91 percent of the way there. People have recognized us for our effort and, on Friday, March 25, I accepted an award on behalf of Herman Miller for Best Sustainability Performance at the Social Innovation Awards. It was an unusual experience because, unlike the other eight or so award recipients in other categories, Herman Miller had no opposition! There were no other nominees in our category, no nail-biting seconds of silence, no exciting build-up of tension. It was only us.
The audience of CEOs, CFOs and VPs from major blue chip companies, such as Coca Cola, Cisco, Nokia, Nestlé, Walmart, all heard there was just one company so far ahead of the game there was no need to ask for other nominations. And if they want to understand how to make a real difference and get that message to stakeholders, then they would do well to take notice of what Herman Miller is doing.
At that moment, I understood how far Herman Miller has come and how much people respect us for doing the right thing.
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.
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.
But what about residential buildings? What about your home? Private houses vastly outnumber commercial buildings, and they consume the biggest single chunk of energy (22 percent).
Well, houses can indeed achieve LEED certification, just like commercial buildings; however, seeking residential LEED certification is the decidedly less-traveled road. At this point, only a handful of residential construction firms nationally have on-the-ground experience in the many options for building green homes. “There’s a lot of information available,” says Doug Selby, president and co-founder of Meadowlark Builders in Ann Arbor, one of the few construction companies that specialize in green building. “But it’s hard to put it all together and create an action plan.” Selby’s customers tend to be highly motivated, willing to experiment, and eager to get involved in their construction project.
In the end, economic stewardship is reason enough to build green, but as Herman Miller and other companies have discovered, there are some potent economic motivators as well. Meadowlark Builders recently renovated an 1837 historic home that achieved LEED Platinum certification The monthly bill for heating and cooling this 1,850-square-foot home? $42 per month on average, and it uses 70 percent less water than conventional homes.
Herman Miller has established several sustainable practices to help it reach its Perfect Vision goals, but what are others doing to create a better world? I recently traveled to Germany and witnessed the country’s commitment to sustainability. Potsdamer Platz is one area that stands out.
Historic Potsdamer Platz in the center of Berlin has seen its share of turbulence. Razed during World War II and bisected by the Berlin Wall (an unobtrusive brick line still runs through the center of the square marking where the wall once stood), it once was a cement-covered no-man’s-land.
Within the last two decades, however, the square has been reborn, and it has a green story to tell.
Meandering through the square, an “Urban Waterscape” of pools, canals, and gentle cascades create “an oasis of calm and beauty,” according to design firm, Atelier Dreiseitl. Naturalized landscapes (“purification biotopes”) surround and filter the water that passes through it.
Besides the aesthetic benefits, the Urban Waterscape is a sophisticated rainwater management system. Over half of the buildings surrounding the enormous square have green roofs. Rainwater from the buildings supplies flushing toilets and fire systems. The remaining rainwater fills the pools and irrigates the landscapes.
Almost subliminally you are drawn to the vista of natural grasses, ducks, fish, and even a crane peacefully co-existing between a highway and the bustling city center. Add the environmental story, and Potsdamer Platz becomes an impressive part of Berlin’s renaissance.
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.
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.
This week in Chicago, thousands will gather at Greenbuild to see the latest in environmentally sustainable products and building practices. This must-see event has emerged as one of the office furniture industry’s largest trade shows in North America.
Herman Miller is a founding member of the USGBC and has exhibited at the event since the beginning. This year, conference attendees will be able to experience several of our latest environmentally conscious products, including the SAYL family of seating, the Thrive Portfolio of ergonomic office tools and accessories, and the Energy Manager device.
Driven by our Perfect Vision initiatives, we’re on track to achieve by 2020 zero waste to landfills, zero hazardous waste generation, the use of 100 percent green energy, and 100 percent of product revenue through sustainable designs.
Tomorrow, we’ll release our fourth annual Better World report, which highlights our progress toward these initiatives. In some cases we’re ahead of schedule, which is good news for us and the planet.
Dwell magazine’s three-part video series called “The Full Spectrum” recently concluded with a view inside our West Michigan facilities. The program also features an interview with creative consultant Susan Lyons about color and its role in our designs.
Lyons and senior editor Aaron Britt discuss our range of color choices and the influences on them, including an early belief that materials should speak for themselves.