InterfaceRAISE: Sustainability Consulting

Posted: 13 Mar 2012

See all articles by Michael W. Toffel

Michael W. Toffel

Harvard Business School

Robert G. Eccles

University of Oxford - Said Business School

Casey Taylor

Harvard University - Business School (HBS)

Date Written: October 12, 2011


InterfaceRAISE is a sustainability management consulting firm created to leverage the capabilities of its parent company Interface Inc., a carpet manufacturer recognized as a global leader in corporate environmental sustainability. This case illustrates the challenges of turning an internal capability into a client‐facing revenue stream. This is made especially difficult by the fact that the parent company is a manufacturing firm and InterfaceRAISE is a professional service firm (consulting). InterfaceRAISE is not being staffed by a traditional consulting firm model, relying instead on the part‐time availability of employees in the parent company. At the time of the case, InterfaceRAISE was grappling to identify the appropriate business model for the type of consulting firm it wants to be, to determine what its client portfolio should look like, and to set its pricing structure. InterfaceRAISE needed to decide how to accelerate its growth while better achieving its three objectives: improving its clients' sustainability performance, enhancing its parent company's brand image and sales, and increasing operating profits.

Learning Objective: To expose students to the opportunities and challenges of creating a consulting business based on selling a manufacturing company's environmental and operational capabilities developed through years of learning how to improve environmental performance. To highlight the strategy of offsetting one firm's environmental impacts by reducing the environmental impacts of other firms, and contrasting this with the carbon offset market. To explore the differences in operational strategies between manufacturing and consulting companies, and the implications on investment, R&D, marketing, and human resources policies. To illustrate the different types of business models that exist for consulting firms and how these affect decisions about client selection and client portfolio.

Suggested Citation

Toffel, Michael W. and Eccles, Robert G. and Taylor, Casey, InterfaceRAISE: Sustainability Consulting (October 12, 2011). Harvard Business School Technology & Operations Management Unit Case No. 611-069, Available at SSRN:

Michael W. Toffel (Contact Author)

Harvard Business School ( email )

Boston, MA 02163
United States
617.384.8043 (Phone)

Robert G. Eccles

University of Oxford - Said Business School ( email )

Park End Street
Oxford, OX1 1HP
Great Britain

Casey Taylor

Harvard University - Business School (HBS) ( email )

Soldiers Field Road
Morgan 270C
Boston, MA 02163
United States

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