Sustainability in design and construction has evolved from a trend to an absolute necessity, and GH Commercial recognises its foundational role in shaping the built environment – and is committed to minimising its ecological footprint.

“Sustainability is no longer a buzzword,” says Lachlan Howell, Strategic Account Manager – Corporate, GH Commercial. “It's here to stay – and it’s more important than ever. We understand the impact we have on current and future generations. As the Oceanic subsidiary to Mohawk Industries – the largest flooring manufacturer in the world – and as Australia’s largest carpet manufacturer and supplier of hard flooring, we have a responsibility to do better – and be better – every day.”

What is ECS?

A key tool in GH Commercial’s endeavour is the Carpet Institute of Australia Limited's (CIAL) Environmental Certification Scheme (ECS). This rigorous program assesses flooring products across their entire lifecycle – from raw material sourcing and manufacturing to installation, use, and disposal.

Each ECS program is tailored to specific product categories (Carpet, Resilient, Adhesive, Underlay, Artificial Turf, and Acoustic Panels), offering multiple levels of certification that reflect the degree of environmental compliance. These programs set rigid environmental standards for product manufacturing and materials, ensuring they meet the highest sustainability criteria. As a result, by achieving ECS certification, flooring manufacturers like GH Commercial can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability and responsible resource management.

Carpet Institute of Australia raises the bar

CIAL’s ECS is a recognised Product Certification initiative in the Green Star rating tools. The Green Building council of Australia recognises Responsible Products that may contribute to a Green star rating through its responsible credits. ECS has been recently upgraded to offer a Level 4+ certification – the highest possible standard of environmental responsibility in the flooring industry.

This new level incorporates stringent criteria, including Health Product Declarations (HPDs), manufacturing improvement programs targeting water, waste, and energy reduction, carbon emission reductions, and even modern slavery compliance. Additionally, manufacturers can earn further recognition by including Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and achieving carbon-neutral status.

"The ECS program has raised the bar for our members so that their products achieve 'Best Practice' under the Responsible Products framework," says Andrew Martin, Director of the Carpet Institute of Australia Limited. This matters to architects, designers and specifiers not only because it ensures that they have the documented proof that their projects exceed required standards – but also that they can push their own standards further in terms of sustainable design. “They are demanding more sustainable products at the design stage,” Andrew explains. “And we have positioned our licensees to take full advantage of this requirement.”

GH Commercial's commitment to sustainability

The ECS program provides a valuable resource for specifiers and procurement teams, offering a clear benchmark for evaluating the sustainability of flooring products – and the companies behind them. Martin points out that the ECS program raised awareness in two crucial areas. “The first area concerns product-specific criteria which demonstrates to the A&D community the advanced and sustainable performance of products,” he explains. “The second area concerns the company-specific criteria, for example, manufacturing improvements and carbon-neutral status of the enterprise, and this demonstrates to architects and specifiers a commitment to sustainable practices."

Since the ECS Level 4+ is one of the highest-rated GBCA Textile Flooring programs available , the commitment the licensees must demonstrate to achieve this rating demonstrates a tremendous dedication to generating positive environmental outcomes – for the participating manufacturers, and the built environment at large.

Martin explains that the ECS licensees achieved 'Best Practice' for each of the GBCA Responsible Products categories, including Responsible Structure, Responsible Envelope, Responsible Systems, and Responsible Finishes. “This shows that Australian manufacturers are leading the way in terms of sustainability,” he says. “And we believe that the design industry will reward them because of this.”

GH Commercial has been at the forefront of this initiative. As a member of CIAL since 1993, many of its Australian-made carpet tiles and broadloom carpets have already achieved this prestigious certification. Its dedication to pursue independent environmental verification is a part of the company’s holistic sustainability framework, and the manufacturer is also actively engaged in research and development, exploring new bio-based materials, recycled content integration, and low-impact manufacturing processes to further reduce the environmental footprint of their products.

This steadfast commitment to a greener future is woven into every aspect of their business, and by investing in ECS Level 4+ certification, Australia’s leading flooring manufacturer highlights its aspiration to exceed industry standards, and communicates the ambition to meet the growing environmental demand from architects, specifiers, and builders.

“Under the latest version of GBCA's Green Star Buildings program, all GH Commercial Australian made carpet tiles, broadloom carpet and hard flooring will contribute strongly to points awarded for 4, 5 and 6-Star rated buildings,” says Lachlan. “All our products that are ECS Level 4+ certified will satisfy Best Practice requirements for projects certified under both the legacy and the new Green Star Building programs.”

In addition, ECS aligns with other leading rating tools, like WELL, highlighting its comprehensive approach to sustainability. "The ECS for Carpet meets the requirements for WELL Certified across nine WELL Certified standards incorporating Air Quality, Sound and Materials,” Martin confirms, highlighting the fact that ECS has undoubtedly become the most significant environmental certification scheme for the Australian flooring industry.

Foundation for genuine change

But ECS is more than just a set of standards – it's a catalyst for change. It fosters a culture of continuous improvement and innovation within the industry, encouraging manufacturers like GH Commercial to develop new, environmentally-forward materials and methods.

“We recognise that building programs like Green Star, Living Building Challenge, WELL, LEED and others will continue to push the boundaries and raise the bar for sustainability within the built environment,” Lachlan explains. “However, it’s programs like ECS that push Australian manufacturers to develop and innovate products, enabling supply chains to meet these ambitious requirements. Our journey, like many others, will evolve as the expectation for more sustainable and regenerative materials within the built environment continues to grow. At GH Commercial, our commitment to our planet extends beyond just products and processes: it’s how we challenge ourselves to do and be better every day, how we make decisions, how we reinvest in our people and our planet, and how we define what matters most as we work to deliver value for generations to come.”

By offering ECS Level 4+ certified flooring, GH Commercial allows architects and designers to be confident in the fact that they select products that meet the highest environmental standards, contributing to a healthier planet and a more sustainable built environment. “Our mission is to create generational change for the communities and places we influence, by leaving a positive handprint for current and future generations to flourish,” says Lachlan.