Lachlan Howell our Corporate Strategic Account Manager had the opportunity to speak to Architecture & Design recently as part of the Sustainability Awards 2023 in which GH Commercial sponsor the Interior Design Awards. Architecture & Design are Australia’s largest design media network sharing valuable resources across architecture, design and construction industries.
A&D: What is your background and what does your current role in the business entail?
LH: I grew up alongside the Great Ocean coastline, arguably one of the most beautiful natural wonders in the world, and those childhood experiences certainly created foundations for my passion towards sustainability – both in personal and professional capacity.
Later on, I completed a Bachelor of Commerce and Bachelor of Arts, specialising in Marketing, Design and Sustainability. It was a pivotal experience that further strengthened my perspective of – and commitment to – the principles of sustainability. It expanded my awareness of existing and future problems our world faces, the simple changes we can make in daily life to affect real change – and what I can do in my professional roles, to support the success of our organisation.
In terms of my career trajectory, I started in the sporting industry, and worked with a pioneering global surfing organisation in events management. The role helped me grasp the connection between the organisation and the natural environment, and the capacity of that organisation to empower stakeholders by adopting sustainable and regenerative practices.
I certainly took this experience with me when I made a somewhat unexpected move into the flooring industry as a Marketing Graduate with Godfrey Hirst. From there, I naturally transitioned to a hybrid role as a Corporate Sales & Sustainability Coordinator, and I think that promotion really highlighted the importance of having a sustainability professional in our commercial sales team – and being able to drive that notion through and support our commercial customer base as well. That role was really about understanding what sustainability efforts we needed to support, and the pillars we needed to focus on as an organisation to provide critical information and drive supply chain value for our corporate customers every day.
Now, I’m GH Commercial’s Strategic Account Manager – Corporate, and look after all of our corporate customers across Australia and New Zealand.
A&D: Is sustainability still a big part of your day-to-day at GH Commercial?
LH: Sustainability is a critical component of what my day looks like, and a large part of it involves contributing to the organisation's sustainability strategy, with a focus on our commercial division.
As a sustainability and sales professional, I need to understand the complexities and challenges of not just the tangible flooring solutions that our customers are seeking. Even more importantly, understanding of their organisation as a whole, including their procurement frameworks, their goals, their values, ESG strategies – and those critical touchpoints they’re trying to achieve – is a critical element of how we, as a local manufacturer and supplier, can provide solutions that lift organisations to achieve their own goals.
A&D: We spoke to your team about GH Commercial’s sustainability framework last year. Is “Believe in Better” still an important concept underpinning the company's sustainability efforts?
LH: At GH Commercial we understand the imperative that we must seek and develop new technologies, products, processes now to ensure that our people, planet and our performance thrive for decades to come. We understand we’re not perfect, and certainly believe that in order to improve we have to understand where our opportunities lie. “Believe in Better” is still very much GH Commercial’s philosophy, and it underpins everything we do and we stand for. We’re proud to announce the evolution of our “Believe in Better” framework, to assist how our stakeholders and the broader public understand three driving pillars to our strategy: “Better for People”, “Better for Planet” and “Better for Performance”.
A&D: Can you describe each pillar in more detail, and tell us how they bolster GH Commercial’s holistic approach to ESG?
LH: As the Oceanic subsidiary of Mohawk Industries, the world’s largest flooring company, we belong to a global network of leading products, brands and world-class manufacturing and we know that our future depends on the work we do today. Our commitment to our planet extends beyond just products and processes: it’s how we challenge ourselves to do and be better every day, how we make decisions, how we reinvest in our people and our planet, and how we define what matters most as we work to deliver value for generations to come. The three pillars encompass a selection of goals – some of which we have already achieved – that centre around people, planet, and performance, and that continuously guide the journey we’re on.
“Better for People” addresses the need to create a diverse, performance-driven workforce that can thrive in safe, hazard-free environments designed to support their health and wellbeing, as well as foster connected communities. In line with our Oceanic Collection, and its connection to Australian waterways, GH Commercial makes an annual donation to Take 3 for the Sea. Contributing to their clean-ups and education programs for schools and local communities, which has so far helped over 350,000 students learn about solutions to ocean pollution. We are proud to continue to support Take 3 for the Sea as we strive to preserve our oceans and waterways that inspired our Oceanic Collection. Take 3 from the Sea shows us how we can take simple actions to address the problem – like taking three pieces of rubbish when you leave a waterway. Our team has walked away from this annual day knowing every one of us can make a difference.
“Better for Planet” addresses our efforts as we strive towards a climate-positive future, by honouring our commitment to reduce our environmental impact. As part of the world's largest flooring manufacturer, we feel a profound sense of responsibility to advance our shared mission of a more sustainable future – that’s why we’re dedicated to responsible resource management and the continued investment in new technology to improve our processes. For example, being carbon responsible means taking real climate action and voluntarily going above and beyond current regulations to achieve net zero carbon emissions. At GH Commercial, we do. Godfrey Hirst Australia has proudly achieved Climate Active Carbon Neutral organisation status, making us the first Australian Carpet Manufacturer to achieve Climate Active. Furthermore, Godfrey Hirst New Zealand is also now a carbon neutral organisation1.
As leaders in our industry, “Better for Performance” is all about challenging ourselves to discover new opportunities to design, manufacture and distribute better products through continuous improvement to transparency and innovation. At GH Commercial, we recognise the powerful role design plays in impacting culture, productivity, state of mind, and long-term sustainability. We are committed to creating better interior spaces by using better materials in our products and avoiding chemicals of concern. Our products hold current and relevant certifications that illustrate our commitment to transparency, better indoor environments and meeting the criteria of leading green building standards – from the Living Future Institute of Australia’s, Declare® Red List Free certification on all of our carpet tiles, Designer Jet® sheet and wool broadloom ranges to our newly accredited Global Green Tag – Best Environmental Practice PVC on our Regent and Polaris Laminated Vinyl Plank products.
1Godfrey Hirst Australia Pty Ltd and Godfrey Hirst NZ Ltd are ‘carbon neutral’ organisations. This means that those entities purchase and voluntarily retire carbon offsets equivalent to their annual carbon dioxide equivalent greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from sources within their organisational boundary. For New Zealand, organisational GHG emissions are accounted for in accordance with ISO14064-3:2018. For Australia, organisational GHG emissions are accounted for, and carbon neutral status is certified, in accordance with the requirements of Climate Active.