EPA, GSA recognize BIFMA furniture sustainability standards

by Brianna Crandall — March 13, 2017 — BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association) standards for furniture sustainability have received significant attention from government purchasers in recent weeks, including EPA recognition and GSA listing, resulting in a new Web site to explain the preferred status.

EPA Recommendations

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released Recommendations of Specifications, Standards, and Ecolabels for Federal Purchasing in December that included the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard and level certification program.

In addition, EPA recommended that furniture products meet ANSI/BIFMA X7.1 Standard for Formaldehyde and TVOC Emissions (Credit 7.6.1 in the sustainability standard) and California’s furniture flammability standard (Technical Bulletin 117-2013) where applicable.

GSA listing

In February, the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) added a new icon to its GSA Advantage! online shopping and ordering service, and an “EPA Recommended” icon will now identify products that conform to standards, certifications, and ecolabels recommended by the EPA in December.

For furniture, BIFMA level was recommended after a rigorous review in an EPA Guidelines Pilot Assessment and has the largest number of certified products in that category.

These recognitions distinguish the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard for creating positive, measurable, and meaningful changes in the environmental performance of products. level is said to be the largest certification program recommended for furniture, with over 3,700 certified products.

level is preferred

The above developments led to the creation of a singularly focused Web site, “level is preferred,” for quick retrieval of information about the government’s recognition of the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard and level certification program.

The federal government is one of the largest purchasers of furniture and employs over 30,000 procurement professionals. BIFMA says the recommendation and new icon announcements are important developments for any manufacturer selling to the federal government, and believes that the recommended programs will be increasingly sought out by private-sector purchasers as well.

Educational sessions on these developments and further details can be received by signing up on the Contact page of the Web site.