Zordan shows it is possible to measure carbon footprint even in custom work, as seen in the LCA method used in physical retail space creation
Zordan on balancing beauty and sustainability
When it comes to retail purchases and sustainability, what most focus on is the products that are bought. A greater attention is put on the supply chain, sourcing, production systems, and whether or not they are done in a way that ensures a lower impact, or better yet, carbon neutrality. There is however something equally as relevant, which are the retail spaces themselves. Zordan is a company that aims to shift the focus from the products to the retail spaces. A family-run company, currently being run by the second generation, Zordan is aiming to «shape beauty sustainably», as declared in their slogan. A shift from their previous one, which was simply «shaping beauty», but not one that was decided upon after the increased attention of companies and customers to sustainability matters, as explained by Alfredo Zordan, the company’s commercial director. Declaring the way they do business in a clearer way was their goal when deciding on this shift. Their new slogan honors their integrated approach which focuses on taking care of the environment and community. Within this approach, the balance between beauty and sustainability comes from the ‘what’ and the ‘how’: beauty can be considered a result of what is produced, and sustainability is how it’s done.
Lampoon talks to Zordan about LCA
Companies need to set an example of reducing and eliminating carbon emissions. The first step is breaking down the value chain into phases. In addition to economic, there are also costs in terms of impact in every phase, which makes the precise analysis of the emissions at every step a key to defining a clear action plan. In order to base emissions management on an objective measurement criterion, Zordan began breaking down the processes using the Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) methodology in 2018, with the end goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030. This year, the company was able to calculate its own carbon footprint, even though their business is based on custom work. This is the main innovative feature of this method. It is much simpler to measure and manage the carbon footprint when it comes to standardized chains of production, and what Zordan offers instead is flexibility. By changing the supplier or the type of raw material, they can immediately receive feedback, making the method available to use also during the design phase and act as a guide in the decision-making processes of their clients. «When you measure something, you have control over all the numbers». This control enables them to simulate the emissions of what they do and quantify the results, which leads to modifying their daily activities and their focal points.
Alternatives to offsetting the carbon footprint
The carbon footprint is an indicator of the environmental impact of companies, and a more widely used quantifier with clearer goals towards carbon neutrality. This is, however, only one view on potential action plans against climate change. «Our sustainability strategy is based on three pillars: profit, people, and planet». Since 2016, Zordan is a B-Corp, a business movement with the aim of creating a positive impact on the environment and society and it is also the first in its sector to receive the B-Corp certification. With a wider view on sustainability, the certification measures the impact in five categories, mapping the company’s governance and accountability, along with the impact on employees, community, environment, and customers. «On all these categories, we have many key performance indicators that evaluate our performance and give us a score». Through this assessment, Zordan is able to discover new opportunities to grow and improve their way of approaching tasks, while aligning and putting their goals together in a bigger strategy. Measures such as the employees’ distance to the workspace, distance travelled by vans to transport materials, water and energy consumption are all traced in order to comply with the certification’s requirements and to align their activities with their long-term goals. As part of the social commitment, Zordan organizes lessons at schools and universities, sharing their vision of a business model which has positive impact goals along with their economic ones. The innovation progresses as they continue to search for more measures to ensure a lower impact, and the company’s next goal is to focus on the environment inside the store and work with the air quality.
The impact of the digital world on retail
«Digital is not our knowledge, but we decided to do this just to give a suggestion» says Mr. Zordan when describing the ‘low impact landing page’ they have implemented for the company’s website. Due to the amount of electricity required to run data transfer centers all around the world, the internet has a considerable impact on the environment, adding up to 3.7% of the world’s carbon emissions. By design, the low impact landing page is as clear as possible to avoid loading unwanted content. System fonts are used to avoid unnecessary HTTP requests, and graphic elements are lightened to ensure a faster transfer rate and lower data loaded. Although the company doesn’t plan to expand into helping their clients design low impact landing pages of their own, the aim is to raise awareness that every aspect of our activities has a consequence for the earth. It also communicates that as a company, they pay attention to every aspect of what they do, even the ones one may take for granted.
The role companies play in sustainability
With the vision that there are two ways of correcting the carbon footprint, one being the easier option, compensating, and the other one, encouraging change, Zordan is aware of the role that companies play when it comes to setting an example and having an all-encompassing sustainability strategy. The biggest change they aim to see through their initiatives is becoming aware of the impact of the physical retail space by intricate measurements, as measuring gives the company the possibility to communicate too. «In this case you also need to show them you have a strong strategy to reduce and maybe compensate it, in order to communicate in the end that you have a carbon neutral store». With this kind of communication, clients would be more willing to not only spend their money, but also their time within the stores, leading to a more relaxed shopping experience. Zordan provides their clients the tools to achieve this through information and suggestions, hoping to bring more companies on board and starting to set an example with their actions.
The consumer is becoming increasingly careful when it comes to sustainability standards, and has much higher knowledge compared to the past. Most consumers are more aware of certifications, and their applications to products or environments. «Retail spaces are a little bit behind in all the digital information that the brand can use to communicate its sustainability strategy». With the increased attention to sustainability, clients have the expectation of finding the same strategy also in physical retail spaces. This is a key driver in an increasing number of brands moving to communicate more on their retail spaces, to have an edge and differentiate themselves from others as it has become common practice to provide other sustainability related information on websites and social media. Their next step is carrying this message into the physical stores and achieving true consistency of communication. All steps of the value chain need to have a coherent shared message, expanding through the digital and physical spaces. Coherent communication and a clear, all-encompassing sustainability strategy, which includes the physical retail spaces, are the elements that will drive customer engagement with this new shift.
Zordan is an Italian family-based company founded in 1965 by Attilio Zordan. The company’s activities are divided into two, mono-brand shopfitting and tailor-made interiors. They specialize in designing, producing, and installing custom furniture to create physical retail spaces for their various clients including Bulgari and Van Cleef and Arpels. Inspired by the goal to «shape beauty sustainably», Zordan is a certified company in their commitment to become custodians for the resources that the planet offers.