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2021 Regulatory Summit Adds Sustainability Topics

NEW: This article was updated July 20, 2021, with new Summit speakers.

Sustainability initiatives, environmental leadership and a broad range of legal and regulatory issues impacting the home furnishings industry are on the agenda for AHFA’s 2021 Sustainability & Regulatory Summit

The September 1-2 event will be at the Conference Center at Guilford Technical Community College in Colfax, N.C. Registration is now open on the Events page of AHFA’s website. 

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 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.”

Additional confirmed presenters include:

  • 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;
  • 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 discuss challenges retailers face addressing current supply chain issues; and,
  • Justine Fallon, director of operations for the Mattress Recycling Council, and Rion Morgenstern, CEO of Pleasant Mattress in Fresno, Calif., who will present an overview and case history of “SP2,” a sleep products sustainability certification program launched in 2019.

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. Kristen Talcott, the CPSC’s project manager for furniture tip-over, has been invited to provide an overview of the recently released notice of proposed rulemaking for clothing storage furniture. She has not yet confirmed her participation.

Several AHFA member companies also will participate in the September program. Perdue and members of AHFA’s furniture safety task group will discuss results of recent clothing storage unit testing, progress on developing new test methods called for in the STURDY Act, and early efforts to evaluate the dramatic new approach to stability testing proposed by CPSC in the NPR.

In addition, member companies Hooker Furniture and Glen Raven – both of which have developed 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 guest speaker Thom Shea, U.S. Navy SEAL, retired.  Shea served the 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 shares leadership skills. His Summit presentation is titled, “Leadership in a Time of Transition.”

Registration for the 2021 Summit is $199 for AHFA members and $499 for non-members. Hotel accommodations are available at a discounted group rate at the SpringHill Suites, Greensboro, just 5 miles from the GTCC Conference Center and 7 miles from Piedmont Triad International Airport.