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Humanscale names Jane Abernethy its first Chief Sustainability Officer


Office furniture designers and manufacturer Humanscale is proud to announce that Jane Abernethy has been promoted to Chief Sustainability Officer. The creation of this C-suite position at Humanscale reflects the company’s commitment to sustainability and strengthens its position as the sustainability leader in the office furnishings industry and beyond.Jane Abernethy, Humanscale

“At Humanscale, sustainability has never been pushed off to the side, but rather it’s at the front and center of everything we do,” says Humanscale Founder and CEO Robert King. “This new executive level position reflects that commitment.”

Abernethy joined Humanscale in 2007 as a Product Designer, where she developed a passion for sustainability. In early 2012, she was asked to lead Humanscale’s BIFMA level certification process and realized the need to go “beyond sustainability” and the minimum of what was being asked from the industry. This insight inspired a net positive approach to sustainability across the entire organization, with a focus on material transparency, responsible manufacturing and handprinting — the act of making positive impacts on the environment. Bringing elevated, strategic thinking along with exceptional execution, Abernethy has fully immersed herself into Humanscale’s supply chain to ensure its products are good for human health and the environment.

“It’s inspiring to work for a company that has the vision to create a CSO position,” says Abernethy. “This is another example of what sets Humanscale apart. We have an entrepreneurial culture, open to innovation and change, along with very strong support for sustainability from our top leadership. This allows us to do things that have a real impact on our customers and the environment’s health, rather than what’s convenient and inexpensive.”

Over the last 7 years, Abernethy has guided Humanscale to become the design industry’s sustainability leader, achieving these milestones along the way:

  • Living Product Challenge Pioneer: Humanscale became, and remains, the first manufacturer ever to achieve full certification with the world’s two first Living Products, its Diffrient Smart chair and Float table.
  • Factory Advancements: Humanscale’s Piscataway manufacturing facility now uses captured rainwater for 100% of production, on-site solar energy for over 80% of electricity, and achieved the highest recycling rates for manufacturing in New Jersey. In the past year alone, Humanscale reduced normalized energy by 10%, reduced greenhouse gasses by 12% over the baseline year and diverted 84% of waste from the landfill.
  •  Leader in Material Transparency: Humanscale is leading across all industries in material transparency with more Health Product Declarations (HPDs) and Declare labels than any other company. To date, 60% of Declare labels and 54% of HPDs in the entire industry are published by Humanscale. To date, 57% of Humanscale products carry Declare labels and HPDs. These labels represent Humanscale’s commitment to avoiding red-list materials and chemicals of concern, many of which are common in the furniture industry, including Formaldehyde, PVC, Chrome 6, PFC stain-resistant coatings, and HFR flame retardants.
  •  Sustainability Leadership: Humanscale has received numerous awards for our leadership in sustainability, including the Manufacturer Visionary Award in 2017. Humanscale also became a founding member of the Net Positive Project and the NextWave Initiative demonstrating its commitment to changing the dialogue on sustainable manufacturing around the world with initiatives that are environmentally and economically aligned.
  •  Smart Ocean: Humanscale recently introduced the Smart Ocean chair — the first ever office product made with recycled fishing net material. With each chair produced these plastic nets are kept out of the ocean and into the office.
  •  Living Future Europe: Humanscale is a founding partner of Living Future Europe, a new chapter of the International Living Future Institute focused on bringing more regenerative design to Europe primarily through the Living Building Challenge, Declare program and local collaboratives.

Abernethy is currently Vice Chair of the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) Sustainability Committee, and was elected to the HPD Collaborative’s Board of Directors in 2017. A respected voice in the industry, she most recently was selected to serve on the keynote panel for The Living Product Expo 2018.


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