BIFMA introduces a Product Certification Program for "Green" Furniture

Steph Helmig - Contributing Writer
Posted on Saturday 13th June 2009
The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA), since 1973, has developed standards for the commercial furniture industry to support safe, healthy, sustainable environments. On June 1, 2009, BIFMA introduced a product certification program, level. The "level" program must approve four standards as well as a third party certification. A material assessment analyzes the company's environmental program as well as the product's climate neutrality, recycled content, efficiency of material usage, biodegradability, usage of renewable materials, life cycle assessments, etc. An energy and atmosphere assessment looks over sustainability policies, manufacturing facilities and finished products involvement with energy, greenhouse gases, lightning, transportation, etc. A human and ecosystem health assessment analyzes the company's hazardous waste and air emissions, listing 500 chemicals that would result in being unapproved. Social responsibility studies labor and human rights as well as health and safety. Finally, a third party certification involves hiring an auditing firm to review and approve processes. Two of the most used third parties are NSF International and Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) while many more will be approved soon. After going through the program, the furniture will be graded Level 1, 2 or 3 (highest) based on their eco-friendly contributions and points received. Allsteel, Gunlocke, HON Company, Herman Miller, Kimball Office, National Office Furniture and Steelcase were of the first manufacturers to be approved. BIFMA saw this to be an important case to reevaluate because a huge factor in building green is the choice of furniture. With these standards, BIFMA hopes to help customers be more aware of the information rather than just seeing an approval label on the packaging.

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