There are organizations that get rewarded for meeting high standards, and there are others that are awarded for creating those standards in the first place. The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) was selected as the recipient of the 2011 ASID Innovation Award for the level™ sustainability certification program. This is a very timely award in an area where innovation was desperately needed. As more and more companies seek to make greener office furniture choices, they need a simple way to categorize and select furnishings based on standardized criteria.
If you’ve looked into eco-friendly office furniture lately, you know it can be as confusing as trying to buy eco-friendly food. Do you choose organic (whatever that means these days) over locally grown produce? How much electricity and water is considered sustainable when farmers are using greenhouses to grow your favorite foods out of season? How do you factor in the working conditions of agricultural workers?
In the same way, there are many different facets of office furniture that play a role in determining sustainability. The BIFMA level™ third-party verification program gives manufacturers a way to assess and then communicate to customers how their products impact the environment. Some of the criteria covered include:
- Production processes
- Energy usage
- Social responsibility
So far, the program is just getting started. However, it could one day be to the office furniture industry what the EnergyStar program is to the home appliance industry.