The environmental concerns regarding office furniture are manifold, and range from issues at the manufacturing process, to the actual delivery of the furniture and the eventual dismantling of the product; but it is possible to reduce your environmental footprint at each stage of the product life-cycle.
Just like any other industry these days, the office furniture business has become more and more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Companies that adhere to certain standards are awarded certificates or ratings to identify them. Two of the most common ones include:
FEMB (the European Federation for office furniture Associations):
- what types of materials are used
- how does the manufacturing process impact the environment and human health
- does the company act in a socially responsible way
LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design):
- Deals with all levels of the construction and design process for both commercial and residential buildings
- Rates a company on the following points with a descending order of importance:
- Energy and atmosphere: energy usage and its emissions
- Sustainable sites: how does your building affect the environment? —> is it near a river?…
- Indoor environmental quality: the acoustics of the building, the availability of natural light…
- Materials and resources: the amount of recycling and reuse of materials both in your business and in the building construction
- Water efficiency: reducing water usage without reducing output
- Innovation in design: new ideas in building design which reduce the environmental footprint
What impact does office furniture have on the environment?
Free of Material Hazards:
- eliminate PVC and use materials providing the same functions such as polyurethane.
- Make sure plywood does not contain formaldehyde.
Preserve Natural Resources:
- Use woods sourced from socially responsible forests
Manufacturing Excellence and Transparency:
- Much of the environmental impacts happens in the supply chain, so make sure to check the certificates of all your suppliers, and make sure to be transparent about your own practices as well.
- Length of guarantee and Ease of repair
End of Life Recovery:
- Ease of dismantling and Easily recycled
How can a furniture company be eco-friendly?
At the manufacturing stage:
- Use eco-friendly products: domestic lumber which uses sustainable and well-documented forestry practices, water or powder based finishes…
- Control the emission of volatile organic compounds: limit the use of solvents such as paint, stains and glues
- Green packaging material
At the disassembling stage:
- Refurbish or re-manufacture: make sure the products you buy are green so there is the option of having them refurbished or re-manufactured