Helping landscape architects to reduce their climate footprint

If you cannot measure it, you cannot improve it. This is the motto behind our investments in making the climate footprint of all our furniture visible. Earlier this year, we became the first furniture manufacturer to label its entire product catalogue with EPDs (Environmental Product Declarations), to show the climate footprint of our products in the same transparent way as food producers declare the nutritional content of their food products. We are now continuing to break new ground – once again as the first furniture manufacturer – by integrating our products in Pathfinder. This is a tool which helps landscape architects to reduce carbon footprints and increase sequestration in their projects.

Pathfinder is a free web-based tool from Climate Positive Design, an initiative started by landscape architect Pamela Conrad. Using Pathfinder, landscape architects around the world can easily and intuitively calculate and understand the environmental impact of the materials and products they use in their projects. The tool enables them to quickly work with different solutions and shows, such as determining the positive effect of planting a few more trees or scaling down concrete surfaces in favour of more extensive planting areas.

Landscape architecture can be a major part of the climate solution

“As a profession whose everyday medium includes carbon-sequestering trees, plants and ecosystems, there are so many ways that landscape architecture can provide solutions to the climate crisis. However, we also need to recognize the emissions that our work generates and to reduce them. We needed a way of measuring the carbon complexity of the spaces outside of buildings – both living and inorganic, but such a tool did not exist. To realise our potential to make a positive contribution to the climate crisis, I developed the Pathfinder app. I believe that if every profession and industry were to challenge itself in the same way, we might still have a chance of overcoming the greatest challenge of our lifetime,” says Pamela Conrad, Founder of Climate Positive Design.

Challenging all projects to become carbon-positive

Pathfinder is also the go-to tool in The Climate Positive Design Challenge, which is a call for landscape architects to reduce the carbon footprint and increase sequestration in everything they design – the goal is for all landscape architecture projects going forward to collectively sequester more CO2 than they emit by 2030, with a target of removing one gigatonne of CO2 from the atmosphere by 2050.

Pathfinder users receive instant carbon dioxide feedback and a climate-positive scorecard, with detailed statistics which can be directly linked to life cycle analysis (LCA) and design proposals to improve the carbon footprint of their projects. They can then try out different strategies and designs to find the most sustainable alternative – and make the project carbon-positive in as few years as possible.

“Working with Pathfinder was a no-brainer for Vestre. Landscape architects are among our most important stakeholders and enabling them to gauge the carbon footprint of their projects represents a huge boost for the profession at large. As part of our journey towards becoming the world’s most sustainable furniture company, we have created environmental product declarations (EPDs) for our entire catalogue. Incorporating these into the Pathfinder tool enables landscape architects to see the footprint of furnishings as well,” says Øyvind Bjørnstad, Head of Strategy and Sustainability at Vestre.

A way of scaling up collective impacts

“Vestre is already a leader and innovator within the urban furniture sector, but by being the first to provide their Environmental Product Declarations (EPDs) and include their products in the Pathfinder, they are really stepping up to show how companies can take climate action through their business practices. By making the carbon footprint of their products public, they are responding to the increasing demand of designers who want to know the environmental impact of the products they specify. Instead of claiming this space for themselves, Vestre is actually encouraging other manufacturers to do the same – a way of scaling up collective impacts. I believe this is an act of true climate leadership – one that I sincerely hope will inspire other manufacturers to join,” says Pamela Conrad.

Learn more about Pathfinder here.