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Impacting sustainability with eco-friendly furniture

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July 12, 2023

When considering improvements to office environments that meet the needs of an evolving workforce, many businesses (and educational institutions alike) are thinking of the future and incorporating eco-friendly furniture on their path to sustainability.

Though eco-friendly furniture may not be top of mind, it is fast becoming a booming business.

In fact, according to Grand View Research – a market research and consulting firm headquartered in San Francisco – the global eco-friendly furniture market was valued at nearly $43.26 billion in 2022.

What is eco-friendly furniture?
Eco-friendly furniture is manufactured in a way that has minimal negative effects on the environment and incorporates renewable and recyclable materials.

It is also built for longevity, using components that can be easily repaired, repurposed or recycled at the end of its life cycle.

This type of furniture is not something you’ll want to, or need to, throw away after just a few years of use.

Do your research
But like any other type of purchase, it pays to do a little research before you buy.

Many may have heard of LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Certification – a green building certification program used worldwide – as it pertains to building construction.

Now LEED and several other organizations are offering certifications that ensure sustainable furniture products you incorporate into your work or learning spaces are low-emission and improve indoor air quality, helping you create more sustainable, healthier spaces.

If you’re considering eco-friendly furniture, here are some key questions you can ask during the purchase process:
Has the product been manufactured with renewable or recyclable materials?Has the product been manufactured in a manner that minimizes the use of water and energy?Do any of the materials used contain chemicals that can create a harmful indoor environment?At the end of its useful life, can the units be easily disassembled in order to recycle the individual components?Will the manufacturer work with you to address areas of concern?
Other certifications
Another area to consider is product certifications.

Here are just a few you can check out if interested – each focusing on different products/industries or areas of focus:
SCS Global Services – products meet stringent standards for indoor air quality.SCS Indoor Advantage – products meet standards for indoor air quality that are crucial for LEED Certification.CARB2 Compliant – compliance with California Air Resources Board and Toxic Substances Control Act standards.Healthier Hospitals – a program to ensure that products are free from chemical additives that can affect air quality.Declare/Living Building Challenge – helps customers easily select products that add to a Living Building Certification.Forest Stewardship Council – FSC-certified wood components supporting responsible forest management.BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association) – recognizes specific commercial furniture products that are manufactured in a responsible way.Facts – a sustainability rating for textiles that evaluates environmental, economic and social responsibility throughout a product life cycle.
At KI, we know sustainability is at the forefront of many remodeling, expansion and building efforts.

Products manufactured in ways that reduce waste, conserve resources and respect the environment are good for the planet and good for all of us.

Robin Kunstmann is the sustainability manager for KI. Headquartered in Green Bay and 100% employee-owned, KI provides contract furniture and architectural wall solutions to customers worldwide.

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