Interface showroom in Atlanta is the first building to attain LEED
Platinum Commercial Interior certification.
the "old mindset"? And what should replace it?
mindset is the one that grips our society, that the earth is so large
we’ll never run out. There’s always room for waste. The new mindset
realizes the earth is finite. We cannot continue to take and take and
take, either the nonrenewable or the renewable, without putting
Old: Our timeframe is the next year or the next quarter. Long
range planning is three years.
New: Long range planning means that
you have to think in evolutionary time. It’s not just for one lifetime; it
has to be longer than that.
Old: The market will fix all the
New: The market can be very dishonest. It can’t be a good
broker if it’s blind to the externalities. Global warming is an
externality that comes from burning fossil fuels. The price of these fuels
doesn’t begin to reflect their true cost, factoring in the wars in the
East and the
cost to future generations of burning that oil today. If it did, we would
be much more judicious in the way we burn that oil. You find
perverse subsidies and externalities not reflected in prices all around
us. Depletion of fish stocks in the North Atlantic is never included in
the price of fish.
The old mindset is the one that grips society
today, but we’ve managed to break with that and create a whole new
worldview. It sounds grandiose, but in our organization we have a
different view of reality than we did 12 years ago.
you inspire CEOs to embrace the “new” mindset?
Ask your customers what they think about the
environment. You might be amazed at how sensitive they are. Take a look at
what you take, what you make, and what you waste, and ask yourself, “Can
this go on and on and on?”
How valuable are your customers to
you? How valuable is the top line to you, the precursor to the
bottom line? How long do you think you can go on and on taking, making and
wasting without the cost of that overwhelming you eventually? We’re on the
verge of paying that price right now, burning that barrel of oil as global
warming comes on like a freight train.
I see three kinds of CEOs:
those who founded their companies; those who inherited them and those who
are hired to run their companies. Those who have the sense of legacy, as I
did, are mostly those who either inherited or founded their companies.
Founders have a different perspective. I cared a great deal about what
this creation of mine turned out to be. I have two daughters. Interface is
the son I never had. I want to see it be all that it can be.
not just my message now. There’s a chorus, a groundswell. Ten years ago
you couldn’t have dreamed of doing what California
is asking industry to do now.
the best approach for government agencies that want to start thinking
the right place to start is in your own building. There is a good codified
explanation of sustainable building now. It’s a beginning, and the
standards will have to be constantly upgraded. But there’s one good
consensus standard, LEED. ["LEED" refers to the Leadership for Energy and
Environmental Design standards developed by the U.S. Green Building
Council.] This is great — the field hasn’t been confused with a million