Humanscale will be committing to the International Living Future Institute’s Living Product Challenge with their Float sit/stand desk and Diffrient Smart task chair in 2016. The only contract furniture brand to participate in the challenge, this represents a significant undertaking on behalf of the manufacturer and signals a message to the industry that a net positive impact is not only an important and achievable aim for the brand, but something the industry as a whole should be working towards. While taking on only a part of the Challenge is an option, Humanscale is demonstrating their commitment to the cause by pledging to complete the Challenge in its entirety.
Addressing design and construction methods, the Living Product Challenge encourages participating companies to manufacture products using processes powered only by renewable energy and within the water balance of the places they are made. Drawing on the ideas of biomimicry and biophilia, the Challenge asserts that Living Products create habitats, build soil, improve quality of life and provide inspiration for personal, political, and economic change. These goals closely align with Humanscale’s values and complement the work the company is already doing to achieve a net positive impact.
In order for the Float desk and Smart chair to achieve certification, an auditor will assess whether the products meet a total of twenty imperatives, including Net Positive Material Health, Red List, Responsible Industry, and Inspiration and Education, across seven performance categories. The performance categories address Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Humanscale’s manufacturing site will also be visited and assessed, and the life cycle of each product will be analyzed. Certified products will need to be reviewed every two years in order to maintain their status.
“Humanscale chose to aim for a net positive impact a number of years ago, and we've been making changes and commitments to support this goal ever since,” says Humanscale’s Sustainability Officer, Jane Abernethy. “When we first made the decision to take on the Living Product Challenge, we got together as a team to go over all of the imperatives and assess what we’re already doing well and where we need to make improvements. We were pleased to discover that we were actually well on our way there. The Living Product Challenge has given us a robust framework for measuring our progress, and seeing when we achieve a quantifiable net positive impact. It's been exciting to take on the last steps toward this ambitious goal."
Abernethy cites the company’s work in Cambodia, developments and improvements in Health Product Declarations, and work with ANEW-- an organization that enables Humanscale to donate or locally recycle used products--as steps Humanscale has already taken in the right direction.
“Humanscale has long been an innovator in creating human and life centric design,” says James Connelly, Director of the Living Product Challenge. “With the Living Product Challenge, they are now taking their leadership to the next level. They are challenging our current manufacturing paradigm and developing products and processes to be as beautiful and efficient as anything found in the natural world. Creating a truly regenerative product is an incredible undertaking and represents a tremendous shift in the way furniture is designed and manufactured. No one has really known if truly net positive products are possible and Humanscale is proving that if you set your aspirations high you can achieve incredible things.”