As Heliosphere lays it’s foundation, we have to be smart about reading the field. This new generation of design, in all industries of the matter, has shaped itself into something that has to be recognized during the first 30-second impression; in most cases, nowadays, a scroll of the homepage of your website.

Going beyond the design and immediate aesthetic appeal, we are choosing to ask ourselves early on, what we represent at our core. The inspiration is all around us, with digital exploration at our fingertips. (Not to ignore the percentage of the world without the necessary resources to “get online.” We know we are fortunate to be capable of the everyday tasks that keep us moving towards our goal as a working company. This is why we will give back to the community that we call home. To rethink these terms: Community – being our friends, family, collaborators and colleagues, and every one of our neighbors across the world. And Home – being this incredible planet that we all share, which has given us the resources we need to survive and thrive as a population.) It’s time to give back. This month, we are dedicating to Sustainability, because we believe in it’s impact.

One of our most recent inspirations is Steve Howard, Ikea’s Chief Sustainability Officer, who stepped down after six years, a couple week ago. Founder, and previous CEO of The Climate Group, Steve continues to contribute immensely to the forefront push for sustainability, leaving the planet better than we found it, and then some. Approached by Heather King, producer of “View from the C-Suite” for in 2012, Steve Howard comments on why he left his nonprofit to join Ikea. After advising more than fifty of the largest businesses in the world, Steve had great insight into whether a company would really make sustainability happen. At this point, he had the reputation and credibility to be able to vet the companies that would truly embrace an environmentally conscious business model, and Ikea fit the bill. They were ready for change and a new spotlight for leadership was shining on Steve.

Meeting with Ikea’s CEO Mikael Ohlsson for an interview, Steve says: “If you’re interested in being incrementally less bad, I’m the wrong guy. If you’re interested in transformational, I’m in.” Mikael’s face lit up.

As a new partnership formed, Ikea, in every sense of the word, transformed into a leader of the sustainable message. Not only in the community, but how Ikea does business. With Steve’s influence, Ikea has continued to push towards their 100% ‘green’ carbon footprint. Here’s a few examples of their successes at all scales:

  • Ikea uses 793 million kWh of green power annually, which represents more than 100% of its total power needs. In addition, Ikea is generating green power from on-site solar and fuel cell energy systems. (Green power is zero-emissions electricity that is generated from environmentally preferable renewable resources, such as wind, solar, geothermal, biogas, eligible biomass, and low-impact hydro.)
  • IKEA evaluates locations regularly for conservation opportunities with at least 80 in-house auditors, integrates innovative materials into product design, works to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution.
  • Recycling waste material and recycled construction materials.
  • Incorporating key measures into buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems.
  • Warehouse skylights.
  • Water-conserving restrooms.
  • Eliminating plastic bags from the checkout process.
  • The list goes on!

Inspiration like this will shape Heliosphere moving forward and we promise to give it our all from the very beginning, through sustainable practice at all scales. There is no effort too small.

Here’s a few words from Steve Howard during a recent interview with The Huffington Post – “Is Climate Action Dead In The Age Of Trump? Ikea’s Green Boss Says No.

What are the top 5 lessons you have learned as head of sustainability at Ikea Group that could help other companies to change for the better?

1) Go all in. Whenever possible set 100 percent targets and drive transformational change. A good example at Ikea is our commitment to using LED lights: We banned halogens and compact fluorescent lights (CFLs). With a 100 percent target, it becomes clear to everyone in the business what success looks like ― there is no ambiguity and nowhere to hide.

2) It’s about better. Early sustainable products and services were almost always compromised: ghoulish energy-saving CFLs, rough toilet paper, the list goes on. People want and expect each generation of products and services to be better than the last. We have to make sustainability easy, affordable and attractive.

3) Make sustainability pay. It is okay to pilot projects that come with a price tag, but for anything to go mainstream it has to pay its way. You simply cannot get anything to scale otherwise.

4) Success has many parents. About a year into my job I started to introduce myself internally as “co-responsible for sustainability with everyone else at Ikea.” Change is a team sport, and you rely on the leadership, expertise, passion and energy of your colleagues. I have been part of a change process with many thousands of others.

5) Remember your purpose. When it is time to take a tough decision, that is your job ― and if you don’t do it, then you give everyone else a perfect excuse.

GreenBiz – Ikea’s Steve Howard on Bringing Sustainability to the Masses
The Huffington Post – Is Climate Action Dead In The Age Of Trump? Ikea’s Green Boss Says No.
EPR Retail News – Ikea Ranked No. 11 on EPA’s National Top 100 List of the Largest Green Power Users.
TED Blog – Ikea’s Sustainable Instinct: Steve Howard at TEDGlobal 2013