News & Events
Interface Inc. Founder and Chairman Receives Clarkson University Honorary Degree
[A photograph for media use is available at http://www.clarkson.edu/news/photos/randerson.jpg ]
Potsdam, N.Y. -- Ray C. Anderson, founder and chairman of Interface Inc., today received an honorary doctor of science degree at Clarkson University's 115th Commencement.
The degree was awarded "for his exceptional career achievements and his pioneering role in advocating change in corporate culture, for incorporating sustainability into management and manufacturing practices, and for exemplifying the ideal of technology serving humanity."
Anderson addressed the class of 2008, saying, "Many people, including me, say that Rachel Carson [author of 1962's Silent Spring] launched a new industrial revolution that is day-by-day displacing the first industrial revolution; which, despite its advanced age of 296 years, still goes on, grudgingly giving way to the new industrial revolution-the green revolution.
Thirty-two years after 1962 was 1994, when Rachel Carson's revolution finally reached me through another book by another author, The Ecology of Commerce, by Paul Hawken. Hawken's book opened my eyes to the abuse by the industrial system, and convicted me as a plunderer of the earth; and for the last 14 years, I have been a recovering plunderer. The 4,000 people of Interface are a daily part of my recovery.||||
Today, 14 years into its journey to recovery (another word for sustainability), Interface has reduced its net greenhouse gas emissions by 82% (absolute tonnage), on its way to zero emissions by 2020. ||||
Why do I tell you this, perhaps, boring story? To say two things to you: 1. It is never too late. In 1994, when Rachel Carson caught up with me, I was already 60 years old; and 2. You have an opportunity to jump-start your own quest for sustainable living, because you have heard the word, environment countless times, and are already sensitized to the plight of the Earth.||||
As a savvy, successful entrepreneur, Anderson transformed a start-up carpeting business he founded in Georgia in 1973 into a billion-dollar-a-year global company. Today, Interface is the worldwide leader in the production and sales of modular and broadloom carpet. The company has manufacturing locations on four continents and offices in more than 100 countries.
Not content to simply focus on an increasingly impressive bottom line, Anderson turned his zeal for enterprise into a passion for sustainability in the 1990s, which has transformed Interface into a world leader in industrial ecology. Under Anderson's direction, Interface introduced waste reduction, waste water recycling, and energy efficiency measures that have significantly reduced the company's use of fossil fuels, cut water use by one-third, and cut down on Interface's contribution to landfills worldwide by 80 percent.
Anderson has spread the word to other companies and to consumers worldwide. He funded the Alliance to Save Energy, which helps children design energy-saving campaigns for the schools; is a frequent speaker at national and international conferences; and is author of the book, Mid Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: The Interface Model.
Anderson's achievements have been lauded by government, environmental and business groups alike. In 2007, he was named one of Time Magazine's "Heroes of the Environment" and in 2001, he was awarded the George and Cynthia Mitchell International Prize for Sustainable Development. Anderson was named co-chairman of President Bill Clinton's Sustainable Development Council in 1997, and in 1996, he received the Inaugural Millennium Award from Global Green, presented by Mikhail Gorbachev, and won recognition from Forbes magazine and Ernst & Young, which named him Entrepreneur of the Year.