The February Roundup: Reframing Circular Business

In this issue: Building the circular ecosystem, Gensler’s new standards, and a Circularity 24 discount code

The Doors Unhinged model of circular business

A circular workplace can’t exist in a linear world.

There’s a whole ecosystem of support required to keep everything in your office in use and out of landfill, and an impressive cross section of that ecosystem came to Savannah, Ga., earlier this month to attend Decon + Reuse 24, the annual conference of the Build Reuse organization.

Andrew Ellsworth, the dynamic CEO of Doors Unhinged, explained exactly what these businesses need to look like, outlining the opportunities and the pitfalls of running a commercial reuse enterprise.

“We didn’t invent the process of taking doors out of buildings, but I think we perfected it,” Ellsworth explained. His successful Pittsburgh company is a B2B distributor of commercial doors, frames, and hardware, and he detailed how he’s made this specific niche work.

The first step is specialization; as Ellsworth joked, he doesn’t do windows.  Doors retain their value, meaning that Doors Unhinged provides comparable product for about half the price of new and at a much shorter lead time. 

Every step that follows that comes down to one word: Service. You need to  identify the customer and the buyer (not the same person!), anticipate their concerns, solve their problems, and thoroughly de-risk the process. And yes, he offers a warranty on all the doors he sells. His clients needn’t know the first thing about circularity to know Doors Unhinged is a great deal.

“When you sell a used car, do you thank your customer for keeping it out of the landfill?” Ellsworth asked his audience. “Of course not!”

A well-run business that builds circular workplaces is, in other words, a well-run business.

Join us at Circularity 24 in Chicago this May!

The return to in-person offices is a key driver of the Circular Workplace conversation, so we’re thrilled to announce that we’ll be hosting in-person conversations as part of Circularity 24, the leading conference of professionals building the circular economy in North America

Join us in Chicago from May 22-24 as we chart the way forward for the zero-waste office. Register before March 8 to get the best rate and use our special promo code C24GS for 20% off the all-access pass.

Gensler charts a course with GPS Standards 

Gensler Minneapolis’ new studio.

Let’s say you like workplace circularity in theory but in practice you just need to renovate your office. How do you get it right? The new Gensler Product Sustainability (GPS) Standards are a good start. The architecture and design company has identified 12 common items used across their projects — from task chairs to carpet tiles — and consolidated a range of criteria so the company’s teams know exactly what to demand. These include organizational commitments, indoor air impacts, supply chain transparency, and of course circularity.

A month in, Gensler reports that the reception has been encouraging.

“We’ve already seen manufacturers shift to more sustainable materials, more sustainable ways of manufacturing, and engaging in deep supply chain conversations about how to reduce the building industry’s impact on the environment,” said Benjamin Holsinger, product development global resilience leader at Gensler. “Our conversations with manufacturers are welcomed, positive, and solution-based — with everyone understanding that one company cannot fight climate change alone.”

We’re always looking for case studies, actionable tips, and news items about the circular workplace. Reach out at to join our coalition.

More resources on sustainable decommissioning

How Adobe solved its old furniture problem might work for your company, too ↗

Silicon Valley Business Journal

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