Mohawk Group Partners with Groundswell and Elevate Energy to Bring Solar to Community Hub in South Chicago

Jun 14, 2018 10:35 AM ET

CHICAGO, June 13, 2018 /3BL Media/ — As part of Mohawk Group’s ongoing commitment to leave more handprints than footprints, the leader in commercial flooring joined Groundswell, Elevate Energy and other partners in south Chicago today for the unveiling of a new smartflower™ solar system. The smartflower, located at The Renaissance Collaborative (TRC) in the Bronzeville community, officially launches an innovative solar energy partnership that includes the installation of 10 units across the U.S. over the course of three years. Each system will be established in underserved communities near educational institutions with STEM programs.

Mohawk Group is sponsoring the solar energy initiative as a “handprinting” strategy for the Living Product Challenge Petal Certification of its newest carbon-neutral products designed to leave a smaller environmental footprint. The biophilia-inspired Sunweave (woven broadloom and area rug), Nutopia and Nutopia Matrix (carpet plank) and Pivot Point Red List-free ERT (enhanced resilient tile) debuted this week to the architecture and design community at NeoCon in Chicago. The Living Product Challenge provides a framework for manufacturers to reimagine the design and construction of products to function as elegantly and efficiently as anything found in the natural world. All Living Products are created to be net positive and benefit people and the environment.

“We are proud and humbled to be part of the excitement happening here in Bronzeville and around the energy, sustainability and design communities of Chicago as we take another step forward in our sustainability journey,” said George Bandy Jr., vice president of sustainability and marketing for Mohawk Group. “In creating our Living Products, we wanted to extend our handprint by reaching out and setting up strategic opportunities for communities that do not traditionally receive the first fruits of what sustainability is able to offer. Together, we can help our generation and the next find meaningful educational and employment opportunities in the solar energy field.”

At the event, Bandy made a commitment on behalf of Mohawk Group to send TRC’s graduating class of solar installers to the Greenbuild International Conference and Expo in Chicago this November.

Each smartflower solar system optimizes the generation of solar energy throughout the day. Modular panels designed to look like flower petals autonomously follow the sun so that they are always at an optimal angle, generating 40% more energy production than traditional solar. The establishment of the 10 new units within the solar-harnessing partnership will represent an energy savings of 3.3 million kwh, enough to power approximately 308 American homes for one year. The system will help provide learning and labor opportunities for community members and local students interested in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

The Renaissance Collaborative (TRC) is a community development corporation that exists to promote self-sufficiency for members of the Bronzeville community through an innovative and comprehensive network of supportive housing, employment and educational services. The campus that serves as the site of the new smartflower includes a historic multi-story building, originally the Wabash Avenue YMCA, now housing more than 100 former homeless adults.

“Mohawk Group’s generous donation will help provide us with lower utility costs and help us to further carry out our mission thanks to reduced expenses,” said Pat Abrams, TRC executive director. “This kind of public-private collaboration is important because at the ground level, we know what the issues are and this is an opportunity to engage others who are interested in making a difference. This installation touches many people who will know about how the partnership works, its purpose, and how corporations like Mohawk can reduce their corporate footprint.”

Elevate Energy works across Illinois and throughout the Midwest designing and implementing programs that lower costs, protect people and the environment, and ensure the benefits of clean and efficient energy use reach those who need them most.

“Collaboration across industries and across partners is really important for getting the best outcomes and really critical for delivering these benefits to low-income communities,” said Anne Evens, CEO of Elevate Energy. “It’s really exciting to have partners like Mohawk Group who are changing the flooring industry and actively demonstrating the direction in which the industry needs to go.”

Operating the new solar energy program is Groundswell, a nonprofit that develops community solar projects and subscriber management programs that connect solar power with economic empowerment for marginalized communities.

“Groundswell is thrilled to be working with Mohawk to build community power as a part of their commitment to believe in better,” said Michelle Moore, CEO of Groundswell. “Deploying solar and storage installation at schools and community centers is a beautiful way to demonstrate how a sustainable energy future connects with educational and economic empowerment for everyone.”

Additional Chicago smartflower project partners include iLumen, Eco-Solar Solutions, Millennium Solar and SunCatch Energy. Later this year, smartflowers will also be installed in New York, Washington and Eden, N.C.

Learn more about Mohawk Group’s commitment to handprints over footprints in the NeoCon virtual tour. 

Luke Chaffin

About Mohawk Group

As the world’s leading producer and distributor of quality commercial flooring, Mohawk Group believes that better floor coverings emerge from better design, innovation, sustainability, project solutions and operational excellence. Mohawk Group addresses the unique challenges and opportunities in contract interiors with a comprehensive carpet and hard surface portfolio of all types and price points. As the commercial division of Mohawk Industries, the company has a heritage of craftsmanship that spans more than 130 years. To learn more about our full line of flooring products, please visit