BLOG: The Future – Creating a Climate for Life

Nigel Stansfield is the EMEA President of modular flooring company, Interface.
UKGBC Leaders Network Breakfast November 2017

Published on

November 27, 2017





Nigel Stansfield talking at our November Leaders Network breakfast.

Climate change is the biggest threat to humanity and to our institutions. The science exists. But tackling a threat requires individuals and organisations with vision to see the opportunity and push for change.

This thinking expects more of businesses than profitability and stakeholder engagement. Business must become the driver of positive impacts with a focus on solving bigger problems.

Not only is this approach good for society, but it’s good for business, and it is expected by customers and employees. It is also the reason Interface began its sustainability journey. Our Founder, Ray Anderson’s famous “spear-in-the chest” moment resulted from a customer asking what Interface was doing for the environment. The consequence was Mission Zero – the target to eliminate any negative environmental impact by 2020.

For more than two decades, Interface has focused on implementing this vision creating a framework to systematically measure and reduce environmental impacts across the business. Programmes including Factories To Zero and Products to Zero, tackling factory waste and non-renewable energy have made substantial progress to reduce impact meaning we are on track to meet our goals.

As Interface nears the realization of the Mission Zero it is evident there is a shift happening in the world and in business. The expectations of business are changing, away from a “responsible” mindset to a positive impact approach.

With this view two years ago, Interface brought together our Eco Dream team members, including Paul Hawken, Janine Benyus, Bill Browning and others from the original group that worked with Ray Anderson to help guide our sustainability mission to envision the next stage in our commitment.

Recently we launched the Climate Take Back mission which aims to address climate change and create a climate fit for life by focusing on four key areas:

  • Live Zero – Do business in ways that gives back whatever is taken from the Earth.
  • Love Carbon – Stop seeing carbon as the enemy, and start using it as a resource.
  • Let Nature Cool – Support our biosphere’s ability to regulate the climate.
  • Lead Industrial Re-revolution – Transform industry into a force for climate progress.


In a bid to explore how to implement these practices into our own organisation we actioned a plan to create the world’s first carbon negative prototype carpet tile. The tile, known as “Proof Positive” has been concepted to show that it is possible to create a product that actually benefits the environment. After the tile is made, there is less carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than if it had not been manufactured in the first place.

While this prototype tile is an example of how we at Interface are taking the first steps to solve a big global challenge it will require the collective abilities, innovations and aspirations of many, including those in the UK built environment who are responsible for driving change.

More broadly, Paul Hawken’s book, ‘Drawdown’ provides a compelling list of actions for organisations to address climate change. But to build momentum around the actions businesses need start sharing ideas and plans, and partnering, to uncover new ways of working. It is only through bold leadership that industry can create a climate fit for life and make the innovations of today the only acceptable standard of tomorrow.

To read more from Nigel and explore how Interface’s Climate Take Back mission aims to address climate change and create a climate fit for life visit the Interface website.

Find Interface and Nigel on Twitter.