Herman Miller’s Journey Toward Positive Transparency

Case Studies  

Herman Miller’s Journey Toward Positive Transparency image

At Herman Miller, we solve problems like designers. It’s just part of our DNA. And it turns out that the creative approach to problem-solving that we take when making furniture works just as well when it comes to ensuring the health and safety of our planet. Good design at Herman Miller means we ask ourselves, “Have we made the best choices possible?” Only by continuing to ask that question and making sustainability a key criterion for how we do business, can we be confident that we are creating a better world.

Ten years ago, we put into place a set of environmental goals that included a zero operational footprint. We have sharpened our goals around the smart use of resources, eco-inspired design, and engaging our broader community of suppliers and employees in sustainable practices. A key aspect of Earthright, our 10-year sustainability strategy, is positive transparency.

Herman Miller helped usher in the new age of sustainable design when our Mirra Chair was introduced as the first product designed to meet both Cradle to Cradle™ and our Design for Environment (DfE) requirements. Since then, we continue to share an unprecedented amount of information about our products through material ingredient disclosures, lifecycle assessments, low-emitting product certifications, Environmental Product Declarations, and most recently, Declare labels.

Today, we set ambitious annual goals for our company that demand new, innovative ways of problem solving.  These goals are part of a corporate scorecard that is integrated into our overall business strategy with the aspiration that every single product we sell is sustainable and meets our DfE requirements. Our progress to this and all of our sustainability goals is shared publicly in our annual Better World Report.

We believe that safe chemistry is a requirement for any sustainable product. Herman Miller maintains a database of approximately 4,000 chemicals that have been eco-profiled. These chemicals are combined into more than 3,000 materials that make up our products that are reviewed by either an external party or internally by our chemical engineers. Our goal is to work with our suppliers toward a future where we use the safest chemicals to make our products. Just as important is making this information accessible to our customers. We share data about the benefits and impacts of our products through, Ecomedes – an environmental calculator, found on our company website.

By making products that can meet certifications, holding ourselves to stringent environmental requirements, and sharing massive amounts of environmental data, we help our customers achieve their own goals, promote health and well-being, and deliver the best possible products.

We’ve made great progress, but we still have a long way to go. As we continue asking ourselves if we’re making the most sustainable choices, we remain committed to creating a better world by design. 

Gabe Wing

Director, Safety and Sustainability