It was a hectic, but really good past week around here, and with just a few minutes to spare to visit Neocon 2009, the interior design industry trade show, we stole a few minutes to visit the Leed Gold Certified showroom of a friend's furniture business: OFS Brands.
The beautiful showroom in the Chicago Merchandise Mart has won industry and city recognition and Mayor Daley launched "The Green Office Challenge" from the showroom this past March. The company specializes in commercial office furniture systems, conference room and hospitality furniture and even offers a line of hospital room furniture. From the beginning, long before a commitment to the environment was of concern, and in fact was unpopular, the business focused on responsible forestry, the reduction of chemical use in the manufacturing process and disruption to natural eco-systems.
Just when we thought we have conquered wonderful world of environmental certifications (in the paper world, of course), we entered the complex world of furniture environmental certifications!! In visiting the showroom, we learned about many of the environmental factors that effect the furniture industry and about the many certifications offered in this field to ensure environmental stewardship. OFS Brands has obtained FSC chain of custody certification which provides customers added reassurance that they are purchasing goods from well managed forests. OFS additionally requires that their suppliers do not use wood that has been harvested in areas where civil rights are violated, and bans the use of genetically modified trees and wood that has been harvested from areas that have been converted from natural forest to plantations.
Toxic emissions from furniture is a major issue for indoor air quality. Formaldehyde in particular is used in composite wood products, plywood particle boards and fiberboard. The furniture board and often fabrics continue to give off toxic emissions long after the furniture is placed within a given site. OFS has worked with scientists to create the EUROLUXE TM finish system to finish their furniture. It is a modified urethane clear coat that completely eliminates dangerous formaldehyde emissions found in most furniture finishes. The finish is applied with a patented spray process that uses nano technology to regulate the timing and mixture of hazardous materials. It enables them to finish very large and very detailed furniture with precision accuracy and durability while meting the strictest LEED furniture emission standards.
Another certification in the furniture industry is called GREENGUARD. The certification assures that products used to construct, furnish, decorate and maintain buildings meet some of the most stringent standards for public health in the world. The Greenguard Environmental Institute, a highly respected resource on indoor air quality. It has established rigorous standards for products used in public spaces to assure mold reduction in textiles, surface finishes and the toxicity of cleaning agents.
All in all it was a fascinating visit. Great to see a Midwestern family business that has grown strong over the years and continues to thrive. It has had strong environmental roots from the onset, an idea that has finally reached a point in time when this is not only encouraged but expected and OFS is a industry leader. Special thanks to the showroom for showing us around and all the great environmental info!
All photos via ofsbrands.com