- Words by USM
Since USM’s very beginning, sustainable development has been a cornerstone of the business. The longevity in the design of the iconic furniture system USM Haller speaks for itself in terms of sustainability, and as a modular system the furniture can be reconfigured if the requirements of the purchaser change. USM does everything it can to provide its customers with furnishings that allow them to live in a sustainable manner.
The more quickly a product has to be replaced, the worse it is for the environment: materials and processes are then required to build a replacement, and the old product has to be recycled or thrown away. Damage to the environment resulting from frequent replacement is avoided by building products that last. That principle is essential to USM’s business philosophy. We build products that endure: wear-resistant materials, fine craftsmanship, durable designs and timeless style all ensure that USM furniture lasts a lifetime. Nothing needs to be thrown away, as thanks to the retrospective compatibility of USM products, previously purchased parts can easily be combined with newly purchased parts.
USM was recently Cradle to Cradle Certified™ for both USM Haller and USM Kitos M. Cradle to Cradle® design defines and develops recyclable products. It differentiates itself from conventional recycling by maintaining the quality of the raw materials over multiple product life cycles and by only using chemicals designated as safe.
Instead of undermining economic growth and ecology, Cradle to Cradle® is an industrial model that mimics the balance of natural ecosystems and starts from the premise that humankind can have a positive and restorative beneficial impact on the environment. At the heart of the concept is the development of upcycling products. To avoid continually wasting resources, we need to transform end-of-life products to give them value so they can go back to a new production cycle rather than end up in the trash. Thus, we eliminate the concept of waste and there are only resources that can be reused to infinity.
USM builds and frequently redevelops its factories and workshops to meet a high standard of environmentalism. It is proud to have been recognised for its commitment to reducing emissions. In 2007, it became the first European company to be certified by the Greenguard Environmental Institute for the low particle and chemical emissions of its products. Low emissions make home and work environments healthier by reducing indoor air pollution.
Sustainability is not only ensured in the production of USM products but also in every aspect of the company. The design and management of the site of the USM headquarters and production facilities has always incorporated and embraced the natural environment, resulting in a recent Stiftung Natur & Wirtschaft award.
Going forward, USM continues to lay new foundations for sustainable production with the introduction of a new heating plant and compressed-air generating system.
The amenities, which will ensure the renewable energy output, include two woodchip heating systems, an oil-fired boiler and a new compressed-air system. The new systems save approximately 250,000 litres of heating oil every year, which corresponds to about 644 tons of CO2 per year.
Modularity is not a simple quirk of USM furniture, it’s a belief system. Change is the only constant in life. The core of our philosophy is that our work and home environments should be adaptable to whatever changes come our way. The USM modular system makes that idea a reality. Built from standardised components that make addition and reconfiguration easy, USM furniture is unmatched in its ability to be continuously remoulded to changing environments and needs, and remains relevant even after 50 years of production.
Case Study: WD-40 office, Milton Keynes
With sustainability, employee wellbeing and a desire for a cohesive workspace at the heart of the Burtt-Jones & Brewer design for the new WD-40 office in Milton Keynes, USM Haller was the perfect choice of storage solution to help bring the design to life.
Burtt-Jones & Brewer and the WD-40 team carefully selected materials, methods of construction, finishes and products to last a projected 25 years. For example, lighting is energy efficient and all white goods are A-rated. The fact that USM Haller furniture is Cradle to Cradle Certified assists with the anticipated BREEAM Very Good rating.
Using the bold colour choices of gentian blue and sunshine yellow, USM Haller pays homage to the iconic WD-40 can-design and gives the workplace an instant symmetry with the WD-40 brand.
Spanning 24,000 sqft, the three-storey building, in the urban centre of Milton Keynes, serves as the new European headquarters for one of the most recognisable brands in the world. Burtt-Jones & Brewer were tasked with creating a space for WD-40 that answered three key objectives for the WD-40 staff. The first was to create positive lasting memories. The second was to ensure the business collaborated naturally by removing barriers. The third was to create a workspace that would actively retain employees and be so inspirational it would encourage growth and attract new talent from within Milton Keynes and beyond.
The resulting design celebrates collaboration and provides a comfortable, positive workspace to support a healthy work-life balance, giving employees a choice of environments to work and relax in. The ground floor houses the staff canteen among other amenities, as well as ample breakout space, which feeds into the reception and atrium. A central spiral staircase leads to the upper two floors which house the principal office workspace, with desks, meeting rooms and a variety of open and cellular work settings.
The choice of blue and yellow USM storage units offers a bold pop of colour and takes centre stage in an otherwise muted colour palette. Located across the three floors, the modular units support the flexible design of the space creating room division as well as providing ample storage space for the workforce. The versatile modular nature of USM means that it can be reconfigured whenever the needs of the company change.
‘WD-40 had a rare brief. With freehold occupation of their new EMEA HQ in Milton Keynes, they were looking for signature furniture that fitted their long-term vision, products that could adapt to suit flexible and differing needs, which they couldn’t yet predict. A solution that reflected the iconic status of the WD-40 can and brand, imagined by engineers. USM is a similarly unique product, engineered with a form over function philosophy, with a similar integrity and commitment to WD-40 with long-term, sustainable goals. Every so often, you find the perfect fit. USM fits seamlessly into the WD-40 workspace, perhaps the greatest possible compliment’, says Adam Burtt-Jones of Burtt-Jones & Brewer.
The project is awaiting Final BREEAM Certification and is due to achieve a BREEAM Very Good rating with an anticipated score of 71 per cent. The design scheme and fit-out has received industry praise and was recently shortlisted for a Regional BCO Award in the ‘Fit Out of Workplace’ category.