The following is a company-submitted press release and does not necessarily represent the views or opinions of Spaces4Learning.

Furniture Sustainability Standard Strengthened

Grand Rapids, MI – The ANSI/BIFMA e3-2019 Furniture Sustainability Standard has been released and updates the e3-2014 version in several notable ways. This revision restructures the standard, first recognized by ANSI in 2010, to harmonize with other leading programs addressing environmental, health, wellness, and social impacts through a product manufacturing, use, and recovery lens.

The standard was developed with NSF International and has been recognized for its vision, relevance, and market penetration over the last decade. It is recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and enjoys a broad cross-section of stakeholder participation. This document benefited from the input of 80 individuals in 49 different organizations.

BIFMA Executive Director Tom Reardon praised stakeholders for wrestling with the many indicators of best practices in the sustainability field: “We deliberately brought in experts from outside of the furniture industry to challenge us and help us create a stronger standard that is in step with customer needs.”

Here are some highlights:
• A new credit was created for demonstrating conformance with the most recent versions of the applicable ANSI/BIFMA Product Safety and Performance Standards. This will ensure that a product meets the minimum levels of safety, durability, and structural adequacy for market usage.

• The Low Emitting Furniture credit is now a prerequisite. All applicable furniture products conforming to this standard must also meet the ANSI/BIFMA X7.1 Standard for emissions.

• A number of credits enhance well-being by rewarding products that meet dimension and adjustment ranges referenced in the BIFMA G1 Ergonomics Guideline; mitigate health risks through lighting solutions; or meet criteria mirroring the requirements of the Healthier Hospitals program.

• Credits pertaining to materials, energy, and atmosphere have been redesigned to better align with ISO life-cycle assessment standards. The organizational boundary and methodology for recalculating baselines are modeled on World Resources Institute criteria.

• New credits have been added to foster the collection of generic industry datasets to compare changes in operating processes over time and demonstrate the effectiveness of the standard.

• As the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System continues to recognize the importance of BIFMA’s LEVEL® Certification Program, Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) impact categories have been expanded to reflect LEED language.

• The Social Impacts section incorporates new points for community outreach, planning for climate adaptation, assessment of high-risk suppliers, and pursuing criteria of a Benefit Corporation (B Corp).

• There is a new option or “pathway” for manufacturers to address chemicals in products. In addition to the prior process (Annex B), utilization of the GreenScreen® method for chemical hazard assessment, Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Material Health Assessment Methodology, or the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labeling of Chemicals (GHS) are now alternative options.

Shari Franjevic of Clean Production Action welcomed the release of the new version of e3 and said “The addition of full material inventory, chemical assessment, and product optimization is an enormous step towards advancing the GreenScreen mission to catalyze the design, development, and use of inherently safer chemicals, materials, and products.”

Copies of the new standard are available. It, along with other BIFMA standards and guidance documents, may be ordered online here.

BIFMA is the not-for-profit trade association for business and institutional furniture manufacturers. Since 1973, BIFMA has been the voice for the commercial furniture industry, serving member and non-member companies to promote meaningful, market-oriented improvements for all stakeholders. BIFMA sponsors development of safety, performance, and sustainability standards used across the furniture industry. The association educates the stakeholder community on the importance and proper use of these standards. BIFMA also provides industry statistics and forecasts to members and the public, and advocates for regulatory conditions that enhance value and foster innovation.

About NSF International
NSF International has been testing and certifying products for safety, health, and the environment for more than 65 years. As an independent, not-for-profit organization, NSF’s mission is to protect public health and the environment through standards development, inspection, testing, and certification for the food, water, build/construction, retail, chemical, and health science industries. NSF Sustainability draws upon this expertise in standards development, product assurance and certification, advisory services and quality systems management to help companies green their products, operations, systems and supply chains.

This article originally appeared in the College Planning & Management April/May 2019 issue of Spaces4Learning.