The Think Chair and Heifer International


Think Chair and Heifer International

Heifer International has taken a "pass on the gift" approach to its mission of ending hunger, poverty, and caring for the environment. When Heifer needed a new headquarters, they were determined to practice what they preach and build with recycled and renewable materials and consume less energy. When it came to seating, employees tried several different chairs and ranked chairs on comment cards. Steelcase Think Chairs were by far the winners. According to Korie Trice, a Sr. Interior Designer, "Everyone really liked the Steelcase Think Chairs best for comfort, usability, and of course its environmental story. The Think chair got top marks on all the criteria."

The environmental pedigree of the Think Chair is unrivaled. The Think Chair was the very first office chair to ever receive Cradle to Cradle certification from MBDC, and has retained gold level certification from the day it was first produced. Think is SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certified for air quality, and that means the Think Chair can contribute to LEED credits and certification. Think is easily disassembled for recycling, the packaging it comes in can be re-used and recycled, and all the materials the compose the Think Chair are completely safe, responsible and perpetually sustainable for the earth. 

Steelcase Think Chairs

So it's no surprise that Heifer International, one of the most respected environmental organizations across the globe, chose the Think Chair as the flagship office chair of their brand new flagship headquarters in Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Heifer International was founded on simple principles, and a small-solution big-effect plan. They provide farm animals, like cows, to poverty stricken families in the developing world. They teach the families how to use the animals for milk, food, money, etc., and then ask that they pass on this knowledge (as well as the offspring of the animals) to their neighbors. For 50 years Heifer International has been doing just that, very successfully. And so it is with great pride that the makers and designers of the Think Chair aligned themselves with the new headquarters of the organization, and with great pride that Smart Furniture makes the Think Chair available to you.

With so many products now labeled 'green,' Steelcase Think Chairs not only meet environmental credentials, but is the first product to ever receive Cradle to Cradle certification. Steelcase Think Chairs can be traced from start to finish nearly 100% recyclable and renewable. It's also SCS Indoor Advantage Gold certified and contributes to Heifer being declared an LEED Platinum company by the US Green Building Council.

Heifer designed the building to use up 55% less energy than a comparable building. Daylight penetrates the entire floor plan because no storage or separating panel exceeds 54" high. The building is four stories and 94,00 sq. ft. It is also only 62 feet deep so walls and offices that are glass maximize sunlight so everyone has an open view to see outside. Heifer worked with Steelcase to buy Think Chairs, but also worked with another of its companies, Turnstone, to find creative ways of minimizing large storage rooms and private offices. Heifer took a philosophy of treating everybody equally and changed their old 4 work stations to every private office to 12 stations to every office, maximizing workstations to a uniform 56 sq. ft.

SCS Certified

Heifer also continued filling their building with environmentally responsible materials including soybean and cotton insulation, as well as an innovative water collection system. Among other highlights, flat panel monitors were installed that hang from a movable arm and minimize energy consumption. A routed HVAC operates under raised access floors optimizing efficiency over traditional systems. All materials and finishes were selected based on low maintenance, low VOC emissions, and durability. Sunlight provides the well over the majority of ambient light with task lights added to areas that might need more. Hidden storage areas hide under work surfaces to provide a more simplistic looking office and work tools generally serve two purposes like mobile pedestals, which can also be a visitor’s seat because it is upholstered.

According to Jo Luck, "We're raising awareness and educating people about sustainability. People are amazed that recycled things are not ugly! The Rockefeller Foundation wants to build sustainably and they’re coming to see our building. Dr. Muhammad Yunus, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006, the president of Zambia, and many other dignitaries, have toured the building. We have a lot of partners in creating this building. Steelcase is one of our partners and we’re excited about what they’re doing with sustainability. Heifer is big on passing on the gift, and it takes partnerships to do that. This building is another way of passing on the gift."

C2C CertifiedThe Think Chair is a great part of Heifer International's comprehensive plan to build a completely green, safe, sustainable workplace for it's employees. For instance, the new headquarters uses nearly all recycled and recyclable materials, soybean and cotton insulation, and a water collections system. It was designed to pay for itself in money saved in ten years, but current projections say it will beat that goal easily. The Think Chair was a contributing factor in making the headquarters LEED Platinum certified, the highest possible sustainable building standard. That's rarefied company for HI; only 57 new construction Platinum projects exist. 

The Think Chair, along with the stunning, groundbreaking work done on the design and engineering fronts, has led to increased productivity, a decline in sickness and absenteeism at work, and a healthier, happier workforce at Heifer International. The Director of Facilities Management, Erik Swindle, confirms: "I've worked with HR, talked with managers. Every (one) has said, 'we don't have as much sick time.' Our productivity has increased and our absenteeism is less of a problem because our workplace environment is much more appealing and staff friendly." Heifer International has built an empowering building, Think Chair included and their workforce has responded to their efforts. The Think Chair isn't just sustainable and green of course; it's incredibly comfortable, adjustable, and attractively designed. Every worker at Heifer International approaches their desk in the morning, looks out their window (every worker was guaranteed a view of the outside), and sits down in their Think Chair to begin the day. And that's not bad at all.


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