There are so many ways that we can cut down on our environmental footprint, and choosing office furniture wisely can make a big impact. Furniture manufacturers can meet certain sustainability requirements to achieve certifications for their products, construction process, sourcing of materials, and transporting their products. Here are a few of the most common certifications:
Bifma Level Certification covers the basics of a manufacturer’s corporate office, their manufacturing process and product material. The impact of natural resources, the environment, and even the social health of their employees are evaluated by Bifma. They have three tiers of certifications: 1,2 and 3 with 3 being the highest environmentally friendly achievement.
LEED is mostly a concern for the construction of a building, but the furniture going into the building does constitute for a small percentage of the certificate achievement.
Greenguard is a certification awarded to manufacturers that create products without harmful chemicals protecting the indoor air quality in commercial buildings. This is a danger that is often forgotten about, because we can’t see harmful VOCs (Volitile Organic Compounds) in the air, we don’t even realize when are breathing them. Greenguard assures that manufacturers aren’t using adhesives or finishes containing chemicals that will release into the air over time.
FCS Responsible Forestry seeks to monitor wood consumption to allow necessary wood for construction but also ensure that Trees will exist for future generations. Forests not only provide materials for construction, furniture and paper, but also filter our water and air.
Most furniture products will have the level, LEED and Greenguard logos on their website page, so make sure you look out for those to ensure your purchases are going to protect you, your employees and the environment.
Here is a glimpse of what some of our manufacturers are doing to protect our environment today and for future generations:
Humanscale, Smart Ocean Chair
Since their founding, Humanscale has displayed the main concerns behind the design of their products are the long lasting effects for both humans and the environment. Their devotion to ergonomics and correcting work posture is evident and their production methods speak to their dedication to leaving not a small footprint, but no footprint. Their newest task chair, Smart Ocean, was designed with Bureo Incorporate as part of their NextWave initiative. This initiative consists of salvaging fishing net plastic in the ocean, which Humanscale is re-purposing as parts for the Smart Ocean chair.
Humanscale is a company dedicated to ergonomically supporting their customers for health that lasts. They have continually shown their dedication by honestly living out their values concerning sustainability but also the materials they use and their manufacturing process. Their Smart Ocean chair does not disappoint in its ergonomic support and with about 2lbs of net plastic in each chair, it also helps to keep our oceans clean.
OFS, Stacks Casegoods
By creating their own clear coat for wood products, Euroluxe, OFS Brands has earned a gold certification from SCS for Indoor Air quality. Many of their products have level 1 or 2 awards from Bifma and they have forest management certifications through the American Tree Farm Program. Forestry is of importance to the founding family, so they participate in the Forest stewardship council and various forestry provision research programs.
Lean manufacturing is also a core element of OFS Brands’ manufacturing process, which has been the reason for many of their awards and certifications.
OFS Brands uses Styline Logistics for transportation, which has joined the SmartWay Transport Partnership. This program educates transportation companies about the most effective ways to cut down on their use of energy and creation of gas emissions. This allows OFS furniture to be shipped all over the world, making a smaller impact due to green method advances.
AIS, Systems and Storage
Creating Panel systems and office case goods, AIS has put some sustainable practices in place to provide their customers with the best quality products. Many facilities require the use of cubicle offices. These tall fabric walls can be a magnet for dust and other particles that aren’t healthy to be breathed day after day. AIS has carefully chosen materials, adhesives and fabrics that not only will protect end users, but also enhance their indoor air quality, earning them a gold certification from SCS.
AIS has also taken measures to lower their environmental impact by generating 50% of the factory’s energy through solar panels and 40%of their products are made from recycled materials.
One of the most unique practices they have developed is their Anew program. Anew was established to cut down on the amount of panels that were being thrown into the landfill when they were out of style, slightly damaged, unwanted, or left behind when a company moved. AIS decided that so many of these products could be used again, so they created a program to donate used items to not-for –profits close to their installed location. AIS will match the product, create new layouts, and touch up items to get them into a new home, so they can be used to their full potential while helping organizations without the funds to furnish their facilities. In the nine years since its establishment, Anew has diverted 13.5 million pounds of product from the landfill from 800 companies in 20 different countries.
DARRAN, Thinking Quietly Benching
Although they sell a variety of products, Darran’s newest line, Thinking Quietly is quite a creative, and green design. This benching series was designed to be modular and allows the end user to customize their workspace to best fit their needs and employees. Unlike other benches, Thinking Quietly integrates acoustical solutions into the bench itself, with a material Darran created. It has the appearance of felt, but is actually made from recycled plastic with integrated acoustical properties.
DARRAN has also created ENVI-CT, their own clear coat finish that protects their surfaces from the wear and tear of a commercial environment but also protects the end users. ENVI-CT not only passes standard indoor air quality requirements, but they exceed them to actually improve air quality.
80% of the materials DARRAN uses in manufacturing are sourced within 500 miles of their factory in High Point, NC, cutting down on transportation energy and fume emission. They have also received MAS certification from LEED for low VOC emitting furniture.
Watson, Miro Desk
Watson’s sustainable process starts with the intention of their furniture. Their products are designed to be modular, durable, long lasting, and look timeless. This in and of itself is sustainable in that it won’y have to be replaced and updated repeatedly, cutting down on wasted resources. The company uses recycled wood from northwest milling operations, and recycled polyester for their upholstered products. Their adhesives are water based, and their work surface edge bands do not contain PVC but rather polypropylene to eliminate harmful chemicals.
During the manufacturing process, Watson reduces waste by using cutting machinery that is programmed to closely nest pieces to limit excess waste. The majority of their materials are locally sourced, 32% is within 500 miles of their factory, 43% is beyond 500 miles but still within the country, leaving on 25% imported from other countries. While some of the materials are sourced from outside the country, all of the furniture manufacturing is completed in Washington state.
If you ever have questions concerning sustainable certification, LEED projects, or what materials are harmful and need to be avoided let us know! One of our designers would be more than happy to help you find durable, green, and beautiful furniture to cultivate a healthy office for you and your employees.