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Greenbuild 2017: Short but select group of flooring exhibitors come with an agenda

November 20/27, 2017: Volume 32, Issue 12

By Steven Feldman


Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 1.41.43 PMBoston—Flooring companies were few and far between as 700 exhibitors convened here earlier this month at Greenbuild, billed as the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building. But those who did make the trip to Beantown came with a purpose. From demonstrating a commitment to sustainability and transparency to the concept of biophilia, a select group of flooring manufacturers saw the value in getting in front of the 20,000-plus attendees.

Greenbuild’s basic value proposition is clear: Sustainable building practices as they relate to work and living environments are good for the bottom line. These are businesspeople who see the opportunity to help improve the planet while growing a successful enterprise.

Mohawk, which occupied more real estate on the show floor than any other flooring manufacturer, came to Greenbuild as a Platinum sponsor and to demonstrate its holistic approach to sustainability. In fact, this marked the first time every aspect of sustainability came together—both residential and commercial, according to George Bandy, vice president of sustainability. As such, Mohawk was putting the spotlight on Air.o on the residential side and Lichen on the commercial side.

According to Seth Arnold, vice president, residential marketing, Mohawk’s messaging perfectly aligned with the theme of Greenbuild 2017: All in. “That message is perfect because we look at providing economically viable solutions—solutions that appeal to consumers and solutions that appeal to our retail partners—and provide us with a supply advantage. Air.o is the perfect product to demonstrate that holistic, ‘all in’ approach to sustainability. It provides installation advantages, it provides consumer appeal, the economics are reasonable and ensures Mohawk a future supply chain of recyclable flooring.”

While Greenbuild is geared more toward a commercial audience, Arnold said everyone Mohawk talked to was fascinated by what it is doing with Air.o because it truly embodies the vision of a closed-loop approach to the category. “I think people have aspired to have a product like this for years.”

Mohawk, Bandy added, came to Greenbuild with another important purpose: to listen and learn. “We are here because this is where our customers are. In order to create the right products and solutions, you have to hear what they are looking for. We need to know what we need to do better, how to position our brand.”

Metroflor was making its Greenbuild debut with multiple goals, according to Rochelle Routman, LEED AP, O+M chief sustainability officer, and that ranged from transparency to biophilia. “First, we want to demonstrate our commitment to sustainability, especially with a focus on transparency and our leadership in the resilient flooring industry. We also want to show the sustainable attributes of vinyl and how the product can be made with a lower environmental impact.”

Transparency has been at the forefront of Routman’s efforts throughout her career, most recently in a similar position at Mohawk between 2012 and 2016. However, she said those transparency initiatives had not spread to resilient flooring as there have been multiple Declare labels issued for carpet but not resilient flooring.

According to Routman, there are a few reasons for that. “First, many manufacturers don’t want to divulge what’s in their products. Second, many resilient products are made in Asia and many companies who market resilient products in the U.S. do not have the longstanding relationships with their Asian suppliers, unlike Metroflor. We trust our suppliers completely. We know what they are telling us is truthful.” To illustrate, Metroflor owns the first Declare label for a rigid core product.

Screen Shot 2017-11-27 at 1.42.43 PMTransparency at Metroflor extends to its Asian factories. “That is an unheard of topic of conversation,” Routman added. “We open the doors of our factories to customers.”

Because Metroflor is so concerned about the ingredients in its products, it will not accept vinyl from external sources. “That is counterproductive and can create risk for the company,” Routman noted. “Other companies are doing that because it can lower the price of the product. Our goal is to have a pure, clean product, and you can’t do that unless you have a trusting relationship with the factory.”

Metroflor at Greenbuild was also talking about biophilia, which is basically this innate feeling for the love of nature. “We have evolved over time with nature being a central part of our lives,” Routman explained. To illustrate the point, Metroflor had some natural vegetation and actual hardwood in its booth. “The space on an emotional level creates a feeling of refuge—an enclosed, safe place.”

Shaw Industries
Shaw Industries took a different approach to Greenbuild 2017 than in years past. Rather than showcase the sustainability attributes of its products, the company decided to host multiple educational sessions on Cradle to Cradle certification, a cause that Shaw has championed for years. It even had the father of Cradle to Cradle, architect William McDonough, as one of its presenters.

“For years we have been a gold sponsor at Greenbuild,” said Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability, “and we would have a booth. You engage with a few people who would stop by. This year we thought it was time to up our education outreach. So when the U.S. Green Building Council offered us a learning lab, and we got to choose the topic, Cradle to Cradle was an obvious choice.”

The growing trend has gone from recycled content as the most frequently asked question to what’s in it, he said. “It’s all about material health, and Cradle to Cradle is a leader in third-party certification.”

With the USGBC now promoting this certification, Cradle to Cradle will move from niche to something that will be driven through the whole green building community. Thus, every session at the Shaw booth included some aspect of Cradle to Cradle, from how Shaw was using it in the marketplace to the city of San Francisco writing it into specifications.

Sheet vinyl manufacturer Altro came to Greenbuild to talk about its sustainability message and the products it offers surrounding that, according to Richard Finnegan, marketing manager.

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Shaw Education Labs showcase latest trends, environmental insights at Greenbuild

Shaw Greenbuild IMG_2421Boston—Shaw Industries Group partnered with the CDC, City and County of San Francisco, Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, Ecoworks Studio, GIGA, HDR and McDonough Innovation to bring fresh thinking and continuing education opportunities to Greenbuild attendees during the annual conference and expo held the week of Nov. 6 here.

“Greenbuild is focused on transforming the market and changing the way people all over the world experience buildings,” said Paul Murray, vice president of sustainability and environmental affairs at Shaw. “It’s a forum that provides us with the opportunity to collaborate with customers and partners to provide insights and education as we all strive to have an even more positive impact in the world.”

At this year’s Greenbuild, Shaw provided five Education Lab sessions and hosted a session with renowned architect and visionary William McDonough in addition to being part of the Cradle to Cradle “Built Positive” day-long pre-session.

Shaw Education Lab sessions included:

  • Cradle to Cradle Products—Currency in the Circular Economy: Explored growing sustainability concepts in the built environment including circular economy, buildings as material banks, material passports, health, wellness and Cradle to Cradle design.
  • The Great Indoors—Creating Safe, Sustainable Environments: Showcased an innovative project undertaken with the city of San Francisco to create the great indoors told from the point of view of the city, an architect/designer and a manufacturer.
  • Designing for Human Health—Cradle to Cradle and WELL: Discussed how the built environment affects human health and how Cradle to Cradle product design can help meet the growing demand for health-conscious design.
  • Transparency—Tools & Tribulations: Delved into how to cut through the complexity of LEED v4 Building Product Disclosure & Optimization credits, reducing research time and associated costs, including tools developed to help simplify the complexity and facilitate the selection of products that help create beautiful, sustainable environments.
  • Special Session with William McDonough “A Walk in the Garden, An Essay of Clues & The Butterfly Effect”: A look at McDonough’s extensive work to do more good, including collaboration with Shaw Contract and Patcraft to design beautiful, sustainable products with safe ingredients that can be perpetually cycled and were manufactured with respect for humans and the environment.

These insightful presentations and related continuing education opportunities are available from Shaw throughout the year.

These efforts are in keeping with Shaw’s long-held commitment to education and training that are at the heart of the company’s focus on innovation. Shaw provides more than 1 million training hours to its associates each year and offers extensive customer education opportunities.

“Our success and customers’ success is inextricably linked,” Murray notes. “By constantly looking for what’s next and keeping a pulse on the perpetually shifts in the market, we are able to not only provide the best products and services to our customers but to help them advance their business goals as well.”

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Mohawk 'All In' at Greenbuild with residential, commercial products

Screen Shot 2017-11-06 at 5.10.57 PMCalhoun, Ga.—For the first time at Greenbuild, Mohawk Industries’ residential and commercial divisions will share the spotlight to show that Mohawk is “all in” when it comes to sustainable flooring. Greenbuild, the world’s largest conference and expo dedicated to green building, will take place Nov. 8–10 in Boston at the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center. Mohawk Flooring and Mohawk Group will be exhibiting on-site in booth space No. 1807.

“The theme of this year’s Greenbuild is ‘All In’—and it’s the perfect opportunity to tell the green building community about Mohawk’s sustainability story and its broad efforts to invest in sustainability across its business,” said Seth Arnold, vice president of residential marketing at Mohawk. “We look forward to seeing Mohawk products, from both our residential and commercial divisions, side by side. It really brings home our passion and commitment to creating more sustainable products and contributing to a healthier world. These products are leading us into the next chapter of both residential and commercial flooring.”

Two Mohawk products that will be showcased are already making a splash in sustainability circles: Air.o and Lichen.

Air.o, Mohawk Flooring’s exclusive new soft floor covering with unified backing, pushes the boundaries of sustainability for the residential market by being manufactured almost entirely from recycled polyester. When it comes to diverting waste from landfills, Air.o is changing the soft flooring industry. Unlike traditional carpet, Air.o is engineered with just one material making it the only 100% recyclable flooring available.

Mohawk Group’s Lichen collection of carpet tiles for the commercial market was designed by Jason F. McLennan, the founder of the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) and the Living Product Challenge. Lichen is the first floorcovering to achieve Living Product Challenge Petal Certification. Inspired by biophilic assemblages of multi-hued, multi-textured lichens and their regenerative role in our ecosystem, the Lichen collection is on the path to give more resources back to the environment than it uses during its entire life cycle. This summer, the collection won a Best of NeoCon Gold Award in Chicago.

“It is always exciting to be a part of the energy at Greenbuild and to be this year’s opening plenary sponsor,” said George Bandy, Mohawk’s vice president of sustainability. “At Mohawk, we believe sustainability is a moral imperative that guides our work. We are redefining flooring with products that not only minimize climate impact, but also foster beauty and allow people to thrive. This commitment extends to our customers, employees and communities. As the world’s largest flooring manufacturer, we continue to take an integrated approach to transparency and sustainable practices that drive change. We believe in better, and this guiding principle has led us to where we are today.”

Mohawk offers more than 500 products containing recyclable material and believes in product transparency with complete disclosure of ingredients, carrying one of the largest number of Red List Free products in the marketplace. Committed to a circular economy, which keeps more materials in the manufacturing loop and out of landfills, Mohawk annually recycles 7.1 billion pounds of waste, 5.5 billion plastic bottles and 25 million pounds of tires into doormats.

Mohawk believes in supporting healthier spaces by obtaining certifications such as Carpet and Rug Institute (CRI) Green Label and Green Label Plus, UL Environment Greenguard and FloorScore. In addition to helping other organizations meet building efficiency goals through its product portfolio, Mohawk is also walking the walk. Among others, the Mohawk Flooring Center in Calhoun, Ga., holds LEED Gold certification, and the Mohawk Group Light Lab Design Mohawk Flooring Center in Dalton, Ga., has been recognized with Living Building Challenge Petal Certification from ILFI.

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Metroflor puts spotlight on transparency at Greenbuild

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-2-55-20-pmNorwalk, Conn.—Metroflor/Halstead’s chief sustainability officer Rochelle Routman will lead a panel during the Greenbuild Conference and Expo—“E13 The Path to Red List Free: Product Ingredient Transparency”—Oct. 6 from 2 to 3 p.m. She will be one of four building product suppliers who will weigh in on their success in eliminating red list chemicals from select product lines.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-2-55-28-pmOther panelists include: Tracy Backus, director of sustainable programs at Teknion, Bill Strang, president of operations and ecommerce at TOTO USA and Julian Crawford, CEO at Imperial Paints.

“Attendees will get an ‘inside look’ at how four diverse building products companies are sharing ingredients data and blazing a trail in red list free offerings,” Routman said. “From small to large and from on-shore to off-shore, you will hear from each company about their unique perspective on the challenges, and opportunities with regard to product transparency and their commitment to the elimination of red list ingredients in their products and supply chain.”

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Greenbuild: Focus on human health, more talk of climate change

November 30/December 14; Volume 30/Number 12

By Jenna Lippin

Screen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.16.51 PM Washington—Climate change may not typically come to mind when considering flooring, but it was certainly a topic of discussion at this year’s Greenbuild International Conference & Expo, held here Nov. 18 and 19. Exhibiting companies focused on products that positively impact human health in addition to manufacturing and reuse processes that ultimately affect global warming.

“You have to look at life cycle assessment and the terms of any type of manufacturing from raw materials,” said George Bandy, vice president of sustainability for Interface. “When you pull something from the earth that’s when you emit the most greenhouse gas. An average of 69% to 70% of a product’s life cycle’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from raw material extraction. If you’re eliminating that and using material that’s already out there you’ve reduced greenhouse gas emissions. You do this by using post-consumer recycled content and bringing materials back in.”

Figures in the commercial arena like architects, designers, specifiers, etc., are, in fact, looking for safe and healthy products that have a reduced impact on climate change. “The safety and health of the building and the safety and health of the planet are totally interrelated,” said John Stephens, vice president of marketing, Shaw Contract Group. “I do think here because of the Global Climate Summit and the relationship between the U.S. and China and the global climate agreement that [there is] opportunity in discussing the impact of climate change. Sustainability economically and environmentally have to be intertwined. You’re not going to have a sustainable environment unless companies are sustainable long term and are able to make money. Shaw recognized that back in the 1990s when we invested in Cradle to Cradle products.”

With that, Cradle to Cradle had a significant presence at the show—not only with various offerings bearing its certification seal, but also with products installed in this year’s Unity Home, a 1,620-square-foot LEED Platinum, WaterSense certified, net zero-energy demonstration show home on display at the expo. The Unity Home featured flooring products from Shaw (hardwood and carpet), Tarkett (linoleum) and Mosa (tile).

In terms of how Cradle to Cradle is keeping up with sustainable trends, Stacy Glass, vice president, built environment, explained, “Because material health has become such a hot topic to both consumers and commercial specifiers, we’ve allowed [manufacturers] to break out materiaScreen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.16.42 PMl health and pursue just that aspect if that’s where their interest is. It’s not a label, but more of a business-to-business information sheet.” Cradle to Cradle’s Material Health Certificate provides manufacturers with a vehicle to share their work toward “chemically optimized products.”

Casey Johnson, Marmoleum business development manager, North America, Forbo Flooring Systems, also noted the importance of addressing health issues within our built environment. “If we’re going to spend 90% of our time inside of buildings we should make sure that they’re as safe as possible. Transparency is just the start; we should also address health issues, whether from poor air quality, deferred maintenance, etc., and what is coming out of our products. We have to be concerned about the health of the occupant.”

To address such, Forbo is focused on discussions with end users to find out what aspects of health are important to them. Johnson explained the company’s approach helps address the divide in the market between health product declarations (HPDs) and environmental product declarations (EPDs). “The EPD is all about the planet and the HPD is all about the person. We want to make sure it’s all covered. From our sustainable massaging standpoint we have our ‘creating better environments’ [theme] that talks about the triple bottom line and our commitment to the health of one.”

Forbo’s “health of one” initiative is a method of outreach for each end user’s health concerns. A focus for the company is the conversation with the customer to determine what is most important to that particular person. “The big picture is to have that conversation with the customer so we understand what is important to them, what defines health for them,” Johnson noted.

Similarly, Tim Cole, vice president, marketing, Nora Systems, noted the importance of the contribution to human health. Nora’s norament xp product was featured in the GreenZone demonstration building that will become an educational center in a low-income neighborhood in Baltimore. “Part of the triple bottom line is social equity,” he said. “It is about the contribution to human health. You have to consider if you are creating an environment that’s green but also a place whScreen Shot 2015-12-18 at 6.16.23 PMere people are going to be most productive, where there is clean air and water and proper lighting. That’s why you have the Well Building Standard now in addition to things like LEED and the triple bottom line. It all has to do with health and well being.”

Mohawk Group prominently displayed its Declare labels at its Greenbuild space, continuing to promote its partnership with the International Living Future Institute. According to Royce Epstein, director, design segment, Mohawk Group is continuing to make strides with its focus on transparency. “We challenge ourselves, our customers and even our competitors to all take part in material transparency. We’re pushing design and sustainability; they’re racing together which is very nice.”

On the topic of climate change, Epstein noted the benefits of Mohawk Group’s vertical integration. “We make our own fiber; we’re not reliant on any outside vendor. I think being vertically integrated is really important, especially when customers are looking for a smaller footprint with LEED or Living Building Challenge projects where you don’t want a long chain of custody. Plus knowing exactly what goes into our product makes it much easier to be transparent.”

Ann Wicander, president of WE Cork, said the company hasn’t specifically addressed the issue of climate change, but because it makes flooring out of cork, “a rapidly renewable material, we are on the good side of that argument.”

When discussing sustainability, Wicander emphasized how cork “embodies everything you want” in a green product. “It also adds to the quality of the building by insulation—sound insulation, thermal insulation. For multi-housing it has been great; we’ve had a lot of developers coming through. They know there is an issue for sound and they’re now more conscious of using products that are environmentally friendly.”

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Greenbuild 2015 delivers monumental event

Screen Shot 2015-12-15 at 3.59.37 PMDallas—The 2015 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held Nov. 18-20 at the Washington Convention Center in Washington, D.C., garnered 19,058 attendees, a significant increase from the 2014 event. There were 548 exhibiting companies participating in 144,300 square feet of exhibit and display space on the trade show floor.

Greenbuild featured more than 200 sessions, tours, summits and workshops in the robust education program throughout the week, with many of them sold out. An impressive 34,494 hours of continuing education credits were also earned at Greenbuild.

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Shaw featured in Greenbuild show home

Screen Shot 2015-11-18 at 4.39.25 PMWashington, D.C.—The 2015 Greenbuild Unity Home, a 1,620-square-foot demonstration show home, is on display Nov. 18-19 at this year’s Greenbuild International Conference and Expo here. The home features Shaw Flooring products and showcases how high-quality design, engineering and construction can be combined with practical and affordable features and state-of-the-art products and technologies to maximize a home’s performance, resilience and sustainability while enhancing the comfort, health and security of those who live there.

The home is a LEED Platinum, WaterSense certified, net zero-energy demonstration project that includes a full array of Cradle to Cradle certified products. Featured Shaw products include Epic Plus engineered hardwood and Life Happens custom area rugs.

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Hanley Wood launches 2015 Greenbuild Unity Home

Screen Shot 2015-11-05 at 1.54.50 PMWashington, D.C.—Hanley Wood, in partnership with world-renowned builder Tedd Benson and Unity Homes among others, will unveil the 2015 Greenbuild Unity Home Nov. 18 at the 2015 Greenbuild International Conference & Expo here.

The 2015 Greenbuild Unity Home has been planned, designed, constructed, inspected and tested according to LEED for Homes version 4 program requirements and is anticipated to achieve Platinum Certification when moved to its permanent site in New Hampshire after Greenbuild.

The 1,620 square-foot home features a modern, light-filled open-plan aesthetic and is one of four customizable platforms being made available for sale to the public by Unity Homes. Also known as the Zum home, its plans originated in part from a collaboration with MIT’s Open Source Building Alliance, which focused on providing cost-effective energy efficiency and extending the flexibility and useful lifespan of buildings.

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Greenbuild dates announced through 2019

Screen Shot 2015-07-23 at 11.25.01 AMDallas—Informa Exhibitions and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have announced the dates for Greenbuild International Conference & Expo through 2019.

“We are committed to rotating Greenbuild to very accessible locations to maximize attendee participation and exhibitor confidence,” said Lindsay Roberts, Greenbuild group director, Informa Exhibitions. “We ensure Greenbuild takes place in different geographic locations and have scheduled a strong lineup that will take the event to the West Coast, Northeast, Midwest and Southeast.”

Greenbuild will continue its pattern of rotating around the U.S. on the following schedule:

Oct. 5-7, 2016: Los Angeles Convention Center, Los Angeles

Nov. 8-10, 2017: Boston Convention & Exhibition Center, Boston

Nov. 14-16, 2018: McCormick Place (West Building), Chicago

Nov. 20-22, 2019: Georgia World Congress Center, Atlanta

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Greenbuild 2014 delivers strong event in New Orleans

Screen Shot 2014-11-20 at 9.21.33 AMDallas—Hanley Wood and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) have announced the results of the 2014 Greenbuild International Conference and Expo, held Oct. 22-24 at the Morial Convention Center in New Orleans. Attendance at the event totaled 17,507, with 552 exhibiting companies participating in 142,000 square feet of exhibit and display space on the trade show floor.

Greenbuild featured over 240 sessions, tours, summits and workshops in the robust education program and throughout the week, with many sold out sessions. Throughout the course of the week an impressive 37,250 hours of continuing education credits were earned at Greenbuild.

“Every year, we strive to bring world-class education and programming to the green building community and maintain the standards that make Greenbuild the most sustainable building conference in the world,” said Kate Hurst, director of conferences and events, USGBC. “With more than 240 education sessions, every member of the green building community had an opportunity to focus on topics that mattered to them at this year’s show.”