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Greenbuild — Human X Nature

Posted on Nov 7, 2018, by Michael Eckert

Greenbuild is just around the corner, beginning Wednesday, November 14, at McCormick Place in Chicago — and we always look forward to what’s happening there. Now, if you’ve been reading this blog regularly (which you have, right?), you’ll be aware of the fact that we’ve been talking quite a bit about the WELL Building StandardTM of late. In part, that’s because Milliken’s Chicago showroom in theMART was recently certified Platinum by the IWBI. It’s the only Platinum-certified space in Chicago, at the moment.

Anyway — WELL has been on our minds. But with Greenbuild approaching, we have the perfect opportunity to once again place LEED front and center. Which is important, because — don’t forget! — the USGBC and LEED have been the vanguard standard for sustainability over the last 25 years. LEED set the standard for green building when there was no standard. Without LEED, there’d be no WELL.




Let’s fill in some backstory. With all the current showroom hullabaloo, it would be easy to forget that our Chicago space is also certified LEED Gold®. In fact, Milliken is a Founding Member of the U.S. Green Building Council. The reason we are so actively involved in organizations like this is because we feel strongly that part of our responsibility as a manufacturer of building materials is to support a full range of organizations which promote sustainability and also health and wellness. These two standards interconnect and strengthen each other.

LEED and WELL are decidedly complementary, with quite a few areas of overlap. Elements like air filtration, acoustic design, and ergonomics play prominent roles under both standards. As does material transparency — an area Milliken has been focused on for quite some time. As we’ve noted before, all Milliken products manufactured in North America are certified Red List Free, with third-party verification. We are big believers in complete material transparency. People need to know, precisely and with certainty, what’s in the products they purchase and build with. LEED was an early adopter of transparency protocols, and the USGBC is a big reason why this topic is now de rigueur in pretty much any discussion about sustainability.


This is Greenbuild’s 2018 theme, and it’s a prescient one. The intersection between people and the natural world is at the root of every green-oriented building standard. Speaking broadly, LEED is more building-focused, while WELL leans toward how people respond to their built environments. But spend just a few minutes with either of these standards and you can see how the distinctions are much more fluid than they might seem at first glance.

Ultimately, a holistic sustainability approach has to do both — use environmentally friendly materials and practices to build structures that are safe and resource-friendly, while at the same time creating interior spaces that promote the health and wellness of the people who use them. It’s easy to see how LEED and WELL serve as complementary methodologies. What’s more, the fact is: these two standards have raised the bar for each other — in the end, both have become stronger and more effective.

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 As a quick aside — the current interest in biophilia is a perfect example of how these approaches are constantly coming together. Biophilic design, if you aren’t fully familiar with the term, is an approach which tries to bring elements of nature into our built environments. The theory rests on the idea that connections with the natural world have a positive effect on us — physically, but especially in the way this connection seems to promote a sense of well-being. In so doing, biophilia can help us reduce our stress levels — leading, in general, to increases in creativity, better motivation, and improved productivity. We’re going to see more and more attention directed at this area — at Greenbuild, in our building standards, and as a component of green thinking as it relates to both sustainability and health & wellness.


As for Greenbuild itself, there are a couple of events we’d like to draw particular attention to:

Prior to the official start of the conference, on Monday, November 12 at 1:00 pm, there is a tour of theMART. It’s called: City Within a City: The Mart. This tour will get into the most recent sustainability history of theMART — specifically, how the building achieved LEED, RESET, and Fitwel certifications. Along with visits to Allsteel and Gunlocke (both of whom are pursuing WELL Certification), the tour will stop by Milliken’s Chicago showroom, which, as we’ve noted, has already been awarded WELL Certification at the Platinum level. The tour will provide a nice introduction to what theMART has been doing with regard to green building in general, and also how each of the three companies noted above are focused on health & wellness as they work with the IWBI.

Another item we’d like to point out is a session on Thursday, November 15 at 4:30. This one is called “What the Health? A Supplier, Manufacturer and Third Party Verifier discuss Material Health Challenges and Successes” and includes Milliken’s Strategic Sustainability Leader, Philip Ivey. He is part of a panel which will offer some guidance (to lucky attendees!) about the arcane world of product transparency. It’s a pretty tricky gauntlet to navigate. Here’s an example — do you understand the differences between an HPD (Health Product Declaration) and an EPD (Environmental Product Declaration? If you said yes, we’re impressed. If you said no, fear not! — this is the session for you. Philip and his companions will also help you understand the vagaries of Red List Free building products, and Declare labels. If that sounds exciting (and it should!), please swing by this session on Thursday.

We hope to see you at Greenbuild.

Topics: Sustainability, Health & Wellness

Michael Eckert

Written by Michael Eckert

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