We spend a lot of time talking with interior designers, architects, building
owners, and facilities managers about environmental stewardship. I am always
inspired by the energy, creativity, and resourcefulness that characterizes these
discussions about the sustainable environment. Our customers feel a keen
responsibility to move sustainability forward by embracing best practices in
green design and purchasing. As a manufacturer, we share that passion and take
our responsibility seriously. We understand that we can empower specifiers by
providing them with innovative products, services, and tools that continually
improve quality standards and environmental performance.
floorcoverings manufacturer, it would be easy to focus on the floor. But
sustainability isn't just about solving one piece of the puzzle. Manufacturers
need to take a holistic view of the built environment and how our products can
be a more effective piece of the global picture. One of the best frameworks for
understanding sustainability is LEED. It's an evolving structure for continuous
improvement that is available to everyone—even a CEO of a manufacturing company.
LEED is becoming central to the sustainability dialogue so it just made sense to
become a LEED AP.
I'm often asked why I made LEED accreditation a
priority. There seems to be a perception that CEOs are too busy to become LEED
accredited. On the contrary, why wouldn't we pursue opportunities to learn about
new technologies and practices, embrace innovation, and partner with specifiers
to solve ongoing challenges? The experience has given me new insights into the
challenges and opportunities of designers, architects, and building owners and
managers. It's been enlightening to walk through LEED-certified buildings with
the designers and owners who had a vision and brought that vision to fruition.
It's impressive how knowledgeable and thoughtful they are about each decision,
and it's exciting to collaborate on a project like that. Very often they aren't
doing this for recognition or a trophy on the wall. They are doing it because
they believe that it's the right thing to do.
USGBC and LEED provide a
context and framework that helps expand new learning and ideas. Greenbuild, for
example, showcases an overwhelming array of products all directed toward
enhancing sustainability. I've always been curious and becoming a LEED AP has
made me more so. I enjoy walking Greenbuild and trying to figure out how
creative talents have engineered innovations such as waterless urinals or
bio-based office furniture.
LEED is an exciting framework through which
we—manufacturers and specifiers alike—can share ideas. We have LEED APs at
Tandus, and I've met many from other manufacturers as I've studied for the exam.
Once you learn that someone is a LEED AP, there is a kind of bond that happens.
Like all shared experiences in life, it gives us a common connection. There's an
excitement when we talk about sustainability and a shared enthusiasm when we
walk through a building that's incorporating LEED building practices.
highly recommend LEED accreditation to people at all levels of manufacturing and
service firms that supply the commercial building industry. We encourage Tandus
employees to keep learning and challenging themselves, and becoming a LEED AP is
a big part of that. Tandus has reimbursement programs for continuous education
and covers the costs for LEED materials and exams, for instance. Many of our
associates find that it helps them to be more valuable to their customers as
they can anticipate and respond quickly to customer needs.
I now have a
better appreciation for the fact that manufacturers across the building industry
need to collaborate and develop material platforms that have more robust
recycling capabilities. We need to find common ground to recycle all the
materials in a building, rather than just dismantle them. And while we are
looking forward, we need to be cognizant of what's behind us. There is a huge
volume of material in the marketplace that needs to be recycled. For instance,
there are five billion pounds of carpet now in use that we can recycle into new
At Tandus, we've always taken a very practical, common sense,
do-the-right-thing approach consistent with sustainability and social
responsibility as core values of the company. Becoming LEED accredited was my
way of helping to nurture and support this company-wide passion. It's also
taught me that there is more opportunity in front of us than behind us. We are
capable of transforming the built environment if all constituents—from
specifiers and end users to manufacturers and service suppliers—work together.
Glen Hussmann, LEED AP, is president & CEO of Tandus, a global
floorcoverings company based in Dalton, Ga., www.tandus.com.