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GIO Looks at Sustainable Design: Top Tips for Specifying Sustainable Furnishings in Commercial Settings

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Sustainability is not a static state; it is a change process that means creating and maintaining conditions for humans and nature to exist in productive harmony. The main objectives of sustainable design are to reduce (or completely avoid) depletion of critical resources such as  water, energy, water and raw materials; prevent environmental degradation caused by facilities throughout their life cycle; and create built environments that are livable, comfortable, safe, and productive.

Whether purchasing tables and chairs, sofas or desks, headboards or wardrobes, it’s important to select furnishings suppliers who use renewable, recycled or reclaimed materials for their furniture as well as practicing “green” policies in their manufacture and delivery.  Here are the top tips for specifying sustainable furnishings in commercial settings.

1.Ensure that the goods and services acquired by the supplier are sustainable all the way through its supply chain, and that the furniture can be recycled at the end of its lifecycle.

2. Ask suppliers if they allow you to return the products back to them for reuse or recycling if necessary.

3. Use low-emitting furniture to protect indoor air quality. Make sure they contain zero or low volatile organic compounds (VOC)-emitting adhesives, stains, finishes and sealants.

4. Check that products are made according to the cradle-to-grave concept.

5. Ask whether it has “green” certification, such as the international FSC and SCS

6. Inquire if there is Chain-of-Custody (COC) certification, which provides a guarantee that FSC-certified furniture meets stringent environmental, social and economic standards

7. Because conventional leather tanning processes use heavy metals that can pollute air and water, look for leather that has incorporated natural vegetable products and waxes in its tanning process.

8. Check that packing procedures reduce cardboard usage and that all packaging is 100% recyclable.

9. Ensure that shipping miles are as minimal as possible.

10. Understand that ergonomically flexible seating options are paramount in supporting a high quality work environment. Select ergonomic seating options that avoid brominated flame retardants, plasticizers, or PVC.

Green_Squared_Certified_logoYou can depend on GIO for your sustainable design projects because many of our products are Green Squared certified. Green Squared provides all tile producers, foreign and domestic, with a clear benchmark for designing sustainable products which can be accepted by North American green building programs.

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