Flooring inspired by 'nature's carpet'

This article is sponsored by Mohawk Group

In 2017, Mohawk Group’s Lichen modular plank carpet system became the first floor covering to achieve Living Product Challenge Petal Certification, carrying on our rich tradition of cutting-edge and innovative flooring solutions. This distinctive product certification program by the International Living Future Institute (ILFI) promotes a philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in product manufacturing today.

Why is this certification important? Mohawk Group believes in meeting the world’s highest standards of sustainable design for commercial flooring. This drives our products and our business. It means supporting the ideals and goals of the most respected and ambitious sustainability organizations—because to do better, we believe we must work together.

These types of certifications engage key stakeholders across the building materials industry in conversations about the importance of thoughtful design and responsible sourcing.

This ultimately leads to innovative strategies that take product transparency and sustainable design to the next level—not just in the manufacturing of a commercial carpet plank collection like Lichen, but for the built environment as a whole.

This sense of responsibility to product transparency encourages us daily to look for ways we can meaningfully set the bar higher for sustainability through innovative products with reduced environmental and social impacts. By pursuing the Living Product Challenge certification with the Lichen Collection, our company is clearly demonstrating this commitment to believe in better in the way that we create flooring, right down to the product’s most elementary aspects.

Designed by Jason F. McLennan, founder of the Living Product Challenge, and his team at McLennan Design, the Lichen Collection speaks to the idea of “Nature’s Carpet” and the multi-hued, multi-textured world of its namesake. Just as these organisms play a part in regeneration within our ecosystem, our Lichen is on track to give more resources back to the environment than it uses during its entire life cycle.

Within the Living Product Challenge are seven performance categories called Petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health and Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Petal recognition is given to products that satisfy the requirements in three of these categories. Lichen met the Water, Health and Happiness, Place, Materials and Beauty Petals categories.

Water Petal
The Living Product Challenge requires a product to have a net positive impact, or handprint, on resources. The handprint is a measure of environmental impact and reinforces the goal of giving back more than we take. For the Water Petal, Mohawk sought to create a positive impact by developing a strategy for water savings that will exceed the 1 million gallons per year used for Lichen’s manufacturing.

To achieve that goal, we engaged in a three-year conservation strategy with Morehouse College in Atlanta to replace the showerheads in its dormitories. Although the replacement of only 15 showerheads would be sufficient to meet the water-saving needs for Lichen’s handprint, Mohawk retrofitted a total of 140 showerheads at the college with low-flow fixtures.

Health and Happiness Petal
To meet the net positive material health imperative, we conducted an inventory research of all of the raw materials that are in Lichen’s supply chain to verify the absence of any Red-Listed chemicals. Additionally, Lichen is manufactured at our Glasgow, Va. carpet tile facility, located in biodiverse and environmentally robust surroundings that allow the employees to experience nature in their daily lives. Like many Mohawk facilities, this location also has an on-site Healthy Life Center, part of our commitment to employee health and wellness. The center offers health coaches to guide associates toward achieving their fitness goals.

Place Petal
In achieving the Place Petal, we looked for ways to create a healthy coexistence between us, as a manufacturer, and the natural environment. In Glasgow, we maintain an apiary with eight hives to support the local bee population. The hives are kept by one of our tufting associates who has been a beekeeper for more than 25 years. We are also improving the greater ecosystem as a founding member of Businesses for the Bay (Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay). To round this all out, we have also made a commitment to donate a percentage of the profits from Lichen to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy for the protection and preservation of the 2,200-mile hiking trail.

Materials Petal
The Mohawk name has become synonymous with sustainability because we work to eliminate pollutants, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs), from our products. Lichen is part of our extensive Red List-free product portfolio, the largest one in the industry. The ILFI’s Red List is a list of materials that pollute the environment and are harmful to humans. Lichen also carries a Declare label, which provides total ingredient transparency and ensures specifiers are selecting healthy and safe products for their commercial spaces.

Beauty Petal
Lichen meets the Beauty Petal in two ways: aesthetically and socially. This collection was designed to enrich our connection to the natural world by using biophilic design principles. Each color in the collection represents a different species of lichen, with a distinct growth pattern and ratio of bloom to rock substrate, and pile height—so it’s not merely “swapping” colors; it has more layered meaning.

But the beauty of Lichen goes even deeper when you consider the positive handprint it leaves through savings in water and the opportunities it presents to educate the public about the ecological innovations and community partnerships behind Lichen.

Our commitment to better project solutions, design and sustainability doesn’t stop with Lichen—rather, it’s a sign of more offerings on the way from the world’s leading flooring manufacturer. The success of this new carpet plank encourages us to look at different ways we can have a net positive impact on people and the environment, leaving a handprint as we seek to touch the contract built environment like never before.


For additional information on Mohawk Group’s Living Product Challenge Petal Certification, please contact Mohawk Industries’ sustainability manager, Rami Vagal, at [email protected] or (706) 624-2434.