Speaker Spotlight: Jay Lanier, Interface

Interface Carpets has proven that even the most unlikely of businesses cannot only pursue and promote sustainability, but also become one of the most renowned, influential leaders in its field for doing so. Ray Anderson, the founder of Interface, made sustainability his utmost priority and endeavor. Interface strives to innovate, reduce or even achieve negative net emissions, eliminate waste, and use nontoxic materials to create their carpet tiles. Their design principles have revolutionized the carpet industry, working to create a beautiful space mimicking and representing nature.


Jay Lanier, Interface Account Executive and grandson of Ray Anderson, exemplifies much of his family company’s ideals, and shared their inspirational initiatives when speaking with our sustainability cohort in our Applied Sustainability class with Professor Clift. His wonderful speech, emphasizing Interface’s partnerships and ideals, inspired each of us to look within ourselves, and see how we may revolutionize other industries and organizations. Interface’s creation of programs like Net-Works and Mission Zero is truly impacting, and shows that the realm of sustainability is absolutely endless. As Lanier says, “Sustainability is about meeting people where they are.” Whether that be through a program like Net-Works, through learning concepts like biomimicry and biophilic design, or other theories, sustainability is essential to changing mindsets and promoting change.


Interface proves that any company may become extraordinary, taking products long-assumed to be devastating to the environment like carpet, and turning it into something that is bettering the world around us. As Lanier says, “If business leads, everything else follows.” If our businesses begin to exemplify sustainable practices, policy and regulations will follow. Therefore, if you want to see a great example of sustainability at its finest, look no further than Interface.

Article by: Denise McGuigan ‘17
Denise McGuigan is pursuing her Master’s in Sustainability from Wake Forest University, planning to work in conservation to preserve biodiversity. Growing up on Long Island, NY, she has always been interested in coastal ecosystems and the outdoors.