MILEstone, the distributed brand of Florim USA, hosted its first Sustainability Summit—Behind the Design—at its new corporate welcome center and showroom at the Florim campus in Clarksville, Tennessee. More than 60 architecture and design representatives from distributors across the country were hosted for two days of sustainability education, networking and plant tours. 

“Every time we gather people from our industry together in a room amazing things happen," said Florim CEO Rodolfo Panisi. "We never stop to learn from each other; and it gives us the energy to do more and better."

Michele McMinn, senior associate at architectural design firm Gresham Smith, shared ideas for designing sustainable projects, including how the firm's product-sampling process aligns with the company’s commitment to a smaller carbon footprint.

Michele Espeland, principal and executive director-strategy at Cuningham Group, shared how the firm has achieved net zero emissons for its internal operations. 

"We need to lead by example, and we need to walk the talk," Espeland said. "And it does help us understand how we are communicating this to clients, how we're selling's actually a great selling point for bringing in your staff because it's really being talked about at all levels."

Brett Shwery, senior vice president for AECOM's Interior Design practice, shared the firm's ambitious environmental, social and governance (ESG) objectives, including the firm's Blueprint for a Better Planet, which is an employee program that encourages employees to write a syllabus for what they would do if they had a week to spend time helping someone socially somewhere on the planet.

"That's resulted in a lot of employees getting funded through the company to go chase their passions to make the world a little better," Shwery said. 

Eric Ezechieli, co-founder of Nativa, spoke on how organizations, no matter their size or structure, can use their power and platform for good to address the urgency of the climate crisis. Ezechieli is a regenerative entrepreneur, and Nativa is the first Benefit Corporation and B Corp in Europe dedicated to accelerating the diffusion of regenerative business.

Other guest speakers included William Paddock, co-founder and managing director of WAP Sustainability Consulting, who spoke about greenwashing and carbon offsets; AJ Paron, EVP Sandow, who spoke on sustainability design trends; and Bill Griese, director of standards development and sustainability initiatives with TCNA, who updated attendees on the Why Tile campaign and why tile is a sustainable choice for flooring.

Don Haynes, Florim's in-house environmental and sustainability manager, shared details about the initiatives the company is taking to become carbon neutral by 2030. The company recycles powders, pastes and residues from the plant’s industrial processes. In addition, glass bottles are purchased from a local landfill and unused tiles are recycled back into the manufacturing process. Florim USA’s eco-compatible production process minimizes the negative impacts on the environment and allows its products to contain up to 40% recycled content. These efforts allow Florim USA, and the MILEstone brand, to offer products that can help companies earn LEED points.

Follow Floor Trends for more detailed coverage of this event and the topics discussed in the weeks to come. 

For more information, visit