AHFA summit to focus on sustainability and regulation

HIGH POINT, N.C. – Sustainability initiatives, environmental leadership and a broad range of legal and regulatory issues impacting the home furnishings industry are on the agenda for a September 1-2 educational program sponsored by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA).

The 2021 Sustainability & Regulatory Summit will be held at the Conference Center at Guilford Technical Community College in Colfax, N.C. Companies need not be AHFA members to attend. 

Titled “Rethink, Reset, React,” the 2021 Summit will cover a wide array of topics, beginning with the challenge of rethinking “sustainability” within a business climate that is increasingly prioritizing environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues.  

Helping attendees understand the forces driving this change will be Heather Palmer, a partner in the Houston office of Sidley LLP and head of the firm’s environmental group. Her practice focuses on environmental law, supporting clients in the development of environmental management systems and advising them on environmental compliance.  

“We will open the September program by rethinking the role of sustainability goals within the home furnishings industry, and how those goals fit into the broader business climate of today,” explains Bill Perdue, AHFA vice president of regulatory affairs. “But we’ll quickly transition to discussing practical steps companies can take to align their everyday operations with those sustainability goals.”

Among the confirmed presenters are:

  • Catherine Sheehy, the global lead of sustainability partnerships for UL, who will discuss standards and certifications and their role in meeting sustainability goals;
  • Mark Fellin and Brent Nelson, both with Amazon, who will share Amazon’s science-based approach to improving sustainable operations, including reducing carbon footprint and expanding use of renewable energy; and,
  • Michael Sullivan, a partner in the Atlanta office of Womble Bond Dickinson, who will present a case history on litigation involving product chemical content (PFOA/PFOS). 
  • Jonathan Gold, vice president of supply chain and customs policy at the National Retail Federation, who will address retailer expectations for sustainable products and “greening” the home furnishings supply chain.  

Additional confirmed sessions include political insights from Chris Andresen, Dutko GR; a STURDY Act update from Matt Howsare, Cooley LLP; and a flammability regulation update from Dr. Andrew Lock of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. 

Several AHFA member companies will participate in the September program, as well. Perdue and members of AHFA’s furniture safety task group will discuss results of recent clothing storage unit testing and progress on developing new test methods called for in the STURDY Act. Also, three AHFA member companies who are focused on setting aggressive sustainability goals for the future have been invited to share their “best practices.”   

AHFA also will roll out an updated version of its EFEC environmental management system at the Summit.

Finally, the September program also features “Leadership in a Time of Transition,” presented by Thom Shea, Navy SEAL, retired. Shea served with the U.S. Navy for 23 years before writing “Unbreakable: A Navy SEAL’s Way of Life,” originally intended as a collection of lessons for his children in the event he did not survive combat in Afghanistan. Following his military career, Shea founded Unbreakable Leadership, a training and mentoring consultancy through which he teaches leadership skills.

Registration for the 2021 Summit is $199 for AHFA members and $499 for non-members. Full program details, along with information on hotel accommodations, are on the Events page of AHFA’s website.

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