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What ‘Justice’ Means for Interior Design

December 31, 2018

Merriam-Webster named “justice” as its Word of the Year for 2018, citing a 74 percent jump over 2017 in how often the word’s dictionary entry is consulted.

“The concept of justice was at the center of many of our national debates in the past year: racial justice, social justice, criminal justice, economic justice,” the dictionary publisher writes in its Word of the Year announcement.

But what does justice have to do with interior design professionals? Actually, it’s important for your clients to consider. Workplaces and trade unions use JUST, a social justice label, to demonstrate with concrete metrics how they operate and how they treat their employees and communities. Designers interact with JUST in two key ways:

  1. Helping clients earn the label, primarily through specifying products created locally
  2. Specifying products from manufacturers that have earned the JUST label for their facilities

Your clients may be interested in using JUST to demonstrate a clear commitment to creating a healthy working environment that also supports the surrounding community. Many of its metrics will draw on your company’s HR and executive personnel – for example, the public non-discrimination statement and the commitment to a gender-balanced and ethnically balanced workforce. But there’s also a role for designers to play if a client decides to pursue the JUST label.

What Does the JUST Label Mean?

The JUST Label JUST isn’t a full building certification like LEED. Instead, the label demonstrates key facts about an organization’s operations, which are drawn from documentation on at least 19 indicators. Designers will primarily interact with the Local Sourcing indicator, which recognizes goods and services purchased within a 300- to 600-mile radius of their destination. Buying locally helps support sustainable communities and vibrant local economies. For products that don’t qualify for local/regional sourcing, investigate manufacturers that have earned JUST for their own facilities – you can’t apply these to a credit, but sourcing materials from a socially responsible company is the next best thing.

If you’re already familiar with Declare, the material health label, you’ll have no problem adjusting to JUST – it uses the same basic labeling format and both are administered by the International Living Future Institute. Clients like JUST because it creates a simple roadmap to improve employee satisfaction and happiness, and people who work in JUST-labeled spaces tend to have a stronger connection to the organizations they work for, according to the International Living Future Institute.

JUST Organizations and Products

A growing number of manufacturers have opted to earn JUST, making it easier than ever to specify products from places that care about their employees. Wilkhahn, Humanscale and Metroflor are a few of the choices in JUST’s database, which also features a multitude of architects, landscape professionals and other green building experts.

Metroflor pursued JUST for the facility in Zhangjiagang, China, that manufactures its Aspecta LVT flooring – the first-ever JUST label awarded to a Chinese facility, as well as the first JUST label for an LVT manufacturer.

“If a company cares about the quality of life of their employees, this will be reflected in their commitment to excellence and the in quality of the products,” explains Harlan Stone, Aspecta’s chairman of the board. “What a virtuous cycle this can become.” Pursuing JUST and specifying products from JUST-labeled manufacturers give your client a chance to join that virtuous cycle and advocate for happier employees, healthier workplaces and stronger communities.

See how Aspecta’s Chinese manufacturer scored and explore how JUST-labeled providers can contribute to your project at

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About the author
Janelle Penny | Editor-in-Chief BUILDINGS