Just like any other industry today, the office furniture industry is working to manufacture and market sustainable and environmentally friendly products. There are dozens of certification organizations that provide thorough and objective evaluations of available products. Those products that meet strict standards are awarded a certain rating or certification that you can look for when shopping for office furniture. Here are some of the most well known Eco-friendly certifications to be on the lookout for as you compare products:
FEMB, the European Federation for office furniture Associations, was founded in 1972 and originally focused a creating a clear set of standard for environmentally friendly and sustainable manufacturing processes among the European Union. Since its inception, it has spread to include companies and countries outside of Europe.
Its main goal is to streamline the certification process and create one overarching standard that can be easily recognized by both customers and manufactures. This allows consumers to make more conscious purchasing decisions that take sustainability into account. It also provides office furniture manufacturers with clear standards and certifications which they can then advertise to the public.
In order to receive a FEMB certification, submissions must be inspected by a third party. During the certification process, the product, manufacturing facility and business as a whole will all be evaluated and measured against certain standards. FEMB looks at what types of materials are used, how the manufacturing process impacts the environment as well as human health and whether the company is acting in a socially responsible manner. Depending on the findings, level 1-3 certification may be awarded.
This certification was created by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA), which is a non-profit organization that works to develop industry standards and advocate for sustainable environments.
To receive a BIFMA Level certification, furniture manufacturers must submit their products to a third-party evaluation process. A qualified expert will determine whether the product and the company meets BIFMA standards for promoting better health and a cleaner environment. Certification levels range from 1-3 and allow the company to attach the level logo to their products.
LEED or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a part of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC). This organization addresses all levels of the construction and design process for both commercial and residential buildings. Furniture companies can work with the Interior Design and Construction section of LEED to earn green certifications.
To get started, companies should visit the LEED website and become familiar with certification standards. Once a company feels that they are in compliance, they can apply for certification, which will be conducted by an impartial third party. There are four levels of LEED ratings: certified, silver, gold and platinum.
Scientific Certifications Systems, which is now known as SCS Global Services, partners with companies and government agencies to help develop more environmentally friendly policies and practices and drive innovation. SCS is committed to helping companies achieve a variety of sustainability accreditations. They act as a third-party evaluation service and use the latest in science based auditing and testing to evaluate the sustainability of different companies.
Greenguard is a part of Underwriters Laboratories Environment division. UL works to advance manufacturer standards, which ultimately means better products for consumers. Greenguard focuses specifically on identifying and certifying products that have low chemical emissions.
Greenguard Gold goes beyond just measuring chemical emissions and evaluates health based criteria. Products that meet these strict standards emit less than 360 volatile organic compounds (VOCs). This means that they are safe for use in areas that house vulnerable populations, such as schools and healthcare facilities. Any product that has been Greenguard Gold certified has worked to meet exceptionally strict standards for public health and safety.
MAS Certified Green
Any product that is manufactured using plastics and chemicals emits volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which can be harmful to your health. In order to combat these risks and protect both people and the environment, organizations like MAS (Materials Analytical Services) Certified Green, work with businesses to provide emissions testing and green certifications. MAS helps businesses enter the green market and reduce the impact that products have on the environment.
Cradle to Cradle
The Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute is a non-profit organization that was founded in 2010 and works to educate both consumers and manufacturers in an effort to improve the safety and sustainability of products. They also provide a certification services so that companies can work to meet specific standards and label their products as Cradle to Cradle Certified. Certifications standards examine the health effects of construction materials, whether materials can be recycled and repurposed, and consumption of water and other resources, as well as, issues of social fairness.
FSC Chain of Custody
FSC is a global organization that works to ensure responsible forest management. They understand that trees are an integral part of manufacturing a wide variety of products. Instead of trying to eliminate the use of wood, they advocate for sensible and conscientious forest management practices that ensure access to products without causing significant damage to forests and our environment.
The Chain of Custody certification indicates that materials have not been mixed in with other non-certified products. It isn’t uncommon for different materials to become integrated during the extensive collection, manufacturing and distribution processes. When consumers see the FSC Chain of Custody certification, they know that they are only purchasing products that have been created using responsibly harvested materials. This allows people to support business that practice sustainable forest management.
Green Seal is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1989 in order to provide U.S. based companies with environmental certification programs. They work to help consumers identify green products and while also partnering with companies to encourage sustainability. They want to make sure that all our resources are used responsibly and that the manufacturing process leaves as little impact on the environment as possible.
To date, Green Seal has developed 33 standards that cover over 400 different kinds of products. They use scientific methods to measure certain criteria and ensure compliance with green standards. Green Seal is constantly working to develop new standards to address changes in manufacturing processes and continue to move different industries in a positive direction.
For more information about office furniture certifications or what products we carry that are considered “green” products, please visit btod.com or contact an office furniture specialist at 866-733-0698 ext option 1.