Corporate greenwashing has been something of a thorn in the side of the sustainable product design movement. From consumer products to commercial furnishings, the market is saturated with green messages from companies that lay claim to being more eco-friendly than the rest. Capitalizing on the deluge of third-party certification programs, EcoLabels, Life Cycle Assessments and related (often confusing) terminology, too many companies would rather pay lip service to sustainability than take substantive measures to reduce their environmental footprints.
Fortunately, there is a growing list of companies that have taken considerable, verifiable steps to become more environmentally responsible, and our annual Bloom Awards set out to recognize those manufacturers and products that embrace innovation rather than resist change (or worse, mislead their customers). And so for the third year, we here at Interiors & Sources, in partnership with the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), are proud to announce the winners of the 2011 Bloom Awards, honoring products that embody both aesthetic beauty and environmental responsibility.
A distinguished panel of judges—including Holley Henderson, LEED ID+C, founder, H2 Ecodesign; Elaine Aye, IIDA, LEED AP, LEED Faculty, principal, Green Building Services; and Mary Le Johnson, ASID, principal, WHR Architects—judged dozens of entries in categories including Flooring, Wall Coverings, Lighting, and Innovative Materials and Systems, all against the following stringent criteria:
- the extent to which the product is environmentally innovative and aesthetically pleasing
- how the product promotes sustainability, including, but
not limited to, energy savings, recycled content, recyclability,
Life Cycle Assessments and end-of-life management
- materials selection within the manufacturing process
(such as substitution of hazardous and toxic chemicals
for those that are less harmful)
- resource efficiency within the manufacturing process
(particularly water and energy use)
- recycling and waste management within the
- recycling and waste management after the product
has completed its life-cycle
Given the quality of products that were submitted, the judges had no easy task set before them. However, this year's crop of winners proves that advances in manufacturing are making significant reductions in the use of the limited resources we share, without sacrificing aesthetics or performance.
"In reviewing the products, I was impressed by the technological and communication advances in the green product realm—there were detailed Life Cycle Analyses and comprehensive metrics," says Holley Henderson. "The winners showed a truly integrated, holistic approach from the product level up to their manufacturing and company-wide commitments."
Elaine Aye echoes those comments, saying, "It is great to see manufacturers continue to find ways to improve their manufacturing processes. By developing and sharing metrics regarding the environmental impact of their products, these manufacturers provide leadership for the interior and manufacturing industries at large."
Mary Le Johnson adds that the entrants "really knew their products and understood their manufacturing processes, and the impact of each on the environment. It is encouraging to see that manufacturers are looking to provide good products that balance function, cost and life-cycle."
The following articles feature the winners of the 2011 Bloom Awards, representing some of the most innovative and sustainable products on the market today. We hope more products like these continue to blossom in the commercial interiors market.