Leading the Climate Emergency Charge

Jon Khoo from Interface, proud supporters of the Green Gown Awards Outstanding Leadership Team of the Year, talks about leadership and facing the Climate Emergency Challenge.

Over the last few years we have seen a number of voices emerge when it comes to leading the debate around the climate emergency. If you’d asked most people 18 months ago who Greta Thunberg is, you would have been met a with blank expression. Now her face features daily in the world’s most influential media outlets, her powerful speeches inspire millions and she’s become a symbol for change. Through her Fridays for Future movement and the Global School Strikes, if one thing is clear about the current climate emergency, it’s that we all need to make a difference. Inaction and inertia are no longer acceptable options, it is down to each one of us to assume leadership in our own fields to drive change and inspire others.

Interface’s own sustainability journey began 25 years ago, when our founder Ray Anderson realised that the flooring industry was damaging the planet and that needed to stop. He saw the potential for Interface to not only be a successful manufacturer, but also one whose products and services could be sustainable. This sparked the launch of Mission Zero® – a public commitment for the company to seek to have no negative impact by 2020. This approach inspired innovation across our whole business – from sourcing raw materials, to manufacturing processes and exploring the management of products at end of life.
So, as 2020 rapidly approaches, what progress has been made? Well we’re delighted to have recently announced Mission Zero  success ahead of our original target and with that in mind we can talk about some remarkable progress including:69% reduction in carbon footprint of Interface carpet tile products
96% reduction in Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions globally
89% renewable energy use across our factories globally, with 100% renewable electricity
89% water use reduction per unit of production in factories globally
92% reduction of waste to landfill across the global business  
In addition, we have achieved our mission by transforming ourselves into a purpose driven flooring company of sustainable designers, makers and storytellers.
Even before this announcement of success, we were already re-evaluating our progress and looking to the future. In 2016 we launched Climate Take Back™ with the aim of running our business in a way that reverses aspects of global warming and inspires other organisations to do the same.. Achieving this aim will require again empowering and challenging our employees, customers and supply chain – it again requires a change of mindset and a realisation that to change everything, you need to change everyone.
In reality, the only way we will succeed is through collaboration. We need to democratise the whole climate change debate, something which has already started through movements such as Fridays for Future, Extinction Rebellion and Architects’ Declare, and foster a willingness in everyone to challenge the status quo.
One area where we’ve seen huge potential and progress in this field is in further and higher education, where institutions are well positioned to channel the passion of both students, employees and local businesses to embrace a more sustainable future. The way colleges and universities are set up means that sometimes the process of moving from declaration to action can happen a lot more quickly than in a traditional business. In addition, there’s so much that companies can learn from the approach of universities and colleges, and vice versa. It’s this knowledge sharing which feeds change and ultimately helps drive success. That’s why it’s so important for us to celebrate those who are leading the charge through the Outstanding Leadership Team of the Year Award, which we’re proud to sponsor this year. These champions help us to constantly evaluate and evolve our approach to not only create beautiful spaces which inspire people to learn, but also improve the planet. 

Interface are proud supporters of the Green Gown Awards Outstanding Leadership Team of the Year 

Learn more about Interface at interface.com, visit our blog at blog.interface.com and see our nora brand at nora.com.
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