Office furniture industry: sees 'sustained' recovery: double-digit sales growth and the continued push for LEED credits highlight the office furniture industry's year.For today's office furniture manufacturers, to "sustain" is to succeed. And succeeding they are.
For the first time in eight years, the Years, The
the seven decades of Eleanor Pargiter’s life. [Br. Lit.: Benét, 1109]
See : Time U.S. office furniture market is projecting double-digit growth in both production and consumption for 2005. According to according to
1. As stated or indicated by; on the authority of: according to historians.
2. In keeping with: according to instructions.
3. the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn., 2005 office furniture production will rise an estimated 12 percent over 2004 figures, to almost $9.995 billion. Likewise, consumption will show approximately 12 percent growth over last year's rates, to $11.910 billion.
While the industry still has a long way to go to get back to the record $13.285 billion it shipped in 2000, it is on the right track. The outlook for next year is positive, with experts projecting 2006 production and consumption to rise an estimated 7 percent and g percent, respectively. New office construction spending Construction Spending
An economic indicator that measures the amount of spending towards new construction. Released monthly by the U.S. Department of Commerce's Census Bureau, it looks at residential and non-residential construction in the private sector, and state and federal at is expected to increase 3 percent for the first quarter of 2006, to $33.5 billion, according to the economic consulting organization Global Insight.
"All three of the primary drivers of furniture demand are trending positive for the current year," said Tom Reardon, BIFMA BIFMA Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association executive director. "Corporate profits are healthy, service sector/white collar employment is increasing and investment in new office construction is stable. All of these factors have a positive impact on furniture demand."
"The trend that I have seen in the industry is certainly the push for sustainability," said Gary Scitthelm, vice president of global sales and marketing at Haworth. "I think that North American North American
named after North America.
North American blastomycosis
see North American blastomycosis.
North American cattle tick
see boophilusannulatus. customers, in particular, are quickly catching on to the benefits of it. Two or three years ago, people thought that sustainable design and sustainable approaches in the industry meant a premium and that you had to pay to follow that approach--you couldn't get your return on investment. The biggest trend that we're seeing now is that people are [finding] that sustainability doesn't cost more initially, and the ongoing benefits are enormous."
"I think it is certainly true that the environmental movement has been very, very big in growing consideration in the industry. And to some degree I think the industry can take a lot of pride in that," said Mark Schurman, director of external communications for Herman Miller Herman Miller may refer to:
1. Unselfish concern for the welfare of others; selflessness.
2. Zoology Instinctive cooperative behavior that is detrimental to the individual but contributes to the survival of the species. , but also because there are very sensible business advantages in terms of the quality of the environment, everything from indoor air quality Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) deals with the content of interior air that could affect health and comfort of building occupants. The IAQ may be compromised by microbial contaminants (mold, bacteria), chemicals (such as carbon monoxide, radon), allergens, or any mass or energy stressor to the experience of the interior space for the employees and customers."
"Environmental and sustainability issues are having a significant impact on the market and in shaping the association's agenda," Reardon said. "Fifteen years ago, our primary involvement in environmental issues was in the area of regulatory compliance. Now we are working to inform our members regarding the benefits of voluntarily embracing the principles of sustainability."
Office Industry Taking the 'LEED'
BIFMA says its voluntary Sustainability Guidelines, released in March, "serve as a road map for any office furniture manufacturer or supplier desiring to become a more sustainable company." As part of its sustainability initiative, BIFMA has developed a standard and a test method for measuring office furniture emissions, which is currently under review by the American National Standards Institute See ANSI.
(body, standard) American National Standards Institute - (ANSI) The private, non-profit organisation (501(c)3) responsible for approving US standards in many areas, including computers and communications. ANSI is a member of ISO. . According to BIFMA, the objective of the standard/test is to "provide an open, scientifically-based and harmonized har·mo·nize
v. har·mo·nized, har·mo·niz·ing, har·mo·niz·es
1. To bring or come into agreement or harmony. See Synonyms at agree.
2. Music To provide harmony for (a melody). test method acceptable to the U.S. Green Building Council as an option under the LEED-CI 4.5 credit." (For information on LEED-CI, see "LEED-CI: A PRIMER".)
"One of the two existing options available to earn the LEED-CI 4.5 credit is to test the specific product using the RTI/ETV test protocol," Reardon explained. "As the RTI/ETV protocol is not currently maintained by any entity and has a number of shortcomings A shortcoming is a character flaw.
Shortcomings may also be:
"BIFMA's involvement in developing a furniture emission test method was motivated by several factors, including a GSA (1) (Global mobile Suppliers Association, Sawbridgeworth, U.K., www.gsacom.com) A membership organization of suppliers of GSM products and services. Its goal is to promote GSM as the worldwide mobile communications standard. See GSM Association and GSM. request from many years ago," Reardon continued. "The test method and standard are not designed to help companies using particleboard par·ti·cle·board or particle board
A structural material made of wood fragments, such as chips or shavings, that are mechanically pressed into sheet form and bonded together with resin. , MDF (1) (Main Distribution Frame) A wiring rack that connects outside lines with internal lines. It is used to connect public or private lines coming into the building to internal networks. or any other specific material The standardized test A standardized test is a test administered and scored in a standard manner. The tests are designed in such a way that the "questions, conditions for administering, scoring procedures, and interpretations are consistent"  method is intended to bring some commonality com·mon·al·i·ty
n. pl. com·mon·al·i·ties
a. The possession, along with another or others, of a certain attribute or set of attributes: a political movement's commonality of purpose. and consistency to this emerging field ... We have had several meetings with representatives of the U.S. Green Building Council and they are very supportive of our work."
Reardon added, "I envision that more architects, building owners, managers, operators and investors will see inherent value in 'building green: These market forces will continue to evolve and drive demand toward greater options in environmentally-preferable products."
"The more recent industry trends [for sustainability] are a great reflection of an industry-wide awakening ... that there really is a financial return on these things "These Things" is an EP by She Wants Revenge, released in 2005 by Perfect Kiss, a subsidiary of Geffen Records. Music Video
The music video stars Shirley Manson, lead singer of the band Garbage. Track Listing
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2. , and you have the added benefit of staying in front of government regulations," Schurman said. "It's always nice to be perceived as an advocate, as opposed to an opponent of such things."
Sandy Horton, director of product line management at Kimball Office, agreed. "As an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council, we help our clients achieve their goals for the environment and LEED-CI certification through products that incorporate design for the environment strategies, including cleaner materials, renewable materials, increased recycle content, and the ability to be easily reused, refurbished and recycled. We're also designing our facilities to meet LEED-CI criteria, including our flagship showroom in Jasper, IN, and our new Chicago showroom," Horton said.
However, whether the sustainability issue will impact the residential market still remains debatable de·bat·a·ble
1. Being such that formal argument or discussion is possible.
2. Open to dispute; questionable.
3. In dispute, as land or territory claimed by more than one country. . "I think the interesting question is when will this start to spill over Verb 1. spill over - overflow with a certain feeling; "The children bubbled over with joy"; "My boss was bubbling over with anger"
bubble over, overflow
seethe, boil - be in an agitated emotional state; "The customer was seething with anger"
2. into the consumer side and residential homes and the residential furniture industry?" Schurman queried. "I think the trend has been much less evident there, and I'm not quite sure why. It will be interesting to see if the USGBC USGBC United States Green Building Council can have as much influence on that side in the future. With an individual consumer, you can only influence a couple thousand square feet, so the cost per sale, so to speak, is higher."
Practicing What They Preach
While the USGBC and other green groups have drawn more attention to environmental building design, many major office furniture manufacturers, including Haworth, Herman Miller, Kimball Office and Steelcase, already have green policies in place.
Steelcase's commitment is perhaps one of the more well-publicized. The company made news in 2001 when its wood manufacturing plant in Grand Rapids Grand Rapids, city (1990 pop. 189,126), seat of Kent co., SW central Mich., on the Grand River; inc. 1850. The second largest city in the state, it is a distribution, wholesale, and industrial center for an area that yields fruit, dairy products, farm produce, , MI, became the first-ever LEED-certified manufacturing facility. (See Wood & Wood Products, January 2002.) In addition, the company has: eliminated virtually all VOCs from its Grand Rapids metal furniture plant, eliminated almost all hazardous waste Hazardous waste
Any solid, liquid, or gaseous waste materials that, if improperly managed or disposed of, may pose substantial hazards to human health and the environment. Every industrial country in the world has had problems with managing hazardous wastes. generation; and announced that it will use certified woods and be PVC-free by 2012.
Herman Miller also has a well-publicized environmental philosophy, one which dates back to 1953. In addition to the company's commitment to LEED certification standards, Schurman said, "The big metric is that by the year 2020, we've said that as a company we will have zero environmental footprint--there will be absolutely no negative environmental implications of our business. It is a very, very aggressive target."
Similarly aggressive is Herman Millers push to follow the principles found in Cradle to Cradle, a novel by William McDonough
William A. McDonough (b. 1951, Tokyo, Japan) is an American architect and founding principal of William McDonough + Partners, whose career is focused on and Michael Braungart Michael Braungart is a German chemist who advocates 'upcycling' not recycling, to minimize humanity's ecological footprint. Once a Greenpeace activist who lived in a tree as protest, he is now a respected industrial designer and professor of process engineering. that investigates the conflicts between industry and the environment, and maps a new set of design and production principles. All new Herman Miller products created since 2001 have to pass the Cradle to Cradle protocol Schurman said.
"The intent here is to create products with closed-loop lifecycles, so that any materials and processes that go into production end up as either organic nutrients that go back into the soil or technical nutrients that are benign to the environment, plastics and so forth, that can be recycled," he said.
Haworth, likewise an advocate of LEED and the Cradle to Cradle principles, also has a longstanding commitment to the environment and the organizations that support it. In addition to Haworth's efforts in day-to-day operations, the company's showroom space at Chicago's Merchandise Mart is LEED certified. Cementing its involvement, Haworth CEO (1) (Chief Executive Officer) The highest individual in command of an organization. Typically the president of the company, the CEO reports to the Chairman of the Board. Franco Bianchi was recently nominated to the USGBC board.
"The efforts that we go to for using sustainable products has been a big deal for us," Scitthelm said. "Part of Haworth's approach has always been about eliminating waste. ELiminating waste, whether it be scrap or packaging, translates into a better bottom line, which then translates into a better product as well Even lean manufacturing Lean manufacturing is the production of goods using less of everything compared to mass production: less human effort, less manufacturing space, less investment in tools, and less engineering time to develop a new product. processes have been worked into this sustainability ideal--using less physical space for production."
Kimball is another company with a long-term commitment to the environment. What differentiates Kimball Office, however, is that its parent company, "Kimball International Kimball International, Inc. NASDAQ: KBALB is a manufacturer of furniture and industrial electronics. Founded by W.W. Kimball in 1857 as a piano dealership, it was discontinued after 1996 but remains one of America's oldest and most distinguished keyboard instrument , is the only major furniture company to own timberlands, actively promoting research and education in sustainable forestry Sustainable forestry is a forest management practice. The basic tenet of sustainable forestry is that the amount of goods and services yielded from a forest should be at a level the forest is capable of producing without degradation of the soil, watershed features or seed source ," Horton said.
"Our commitment to environmental stewardship The integration and application of environmental values into the military mission in order to sustain readiness, improve quality of life, strengthen civil relations, and preserve valuable natural resources. began long before the green movement became popular," Horton added. "For as long as we've been around, Kimball Office has used conservation and sustainability to guide how we design, build and plan for the total life cycle of our products. Many of our programs and initiatives have been 'firsts,' and we continue to promote industry standards for the long-term protection of our environment."
Kimball's environmental policy includes, among other things, a strong emphasis on the use of sustainable products.
"We select materials that are as environmentally sensitive as possible, while still meeting the engineering requirements for the product's use," Horton said. "We try to use the smallest amount of dissimilar materials possible in our products for easier recycling, and we do our best to increase their already high recycled content."
Monitoring Imports for Sustainability
Tracking the sustainability of products produced in-house is one thing. When it comes to imported components, however, it becomes a little more difficult.
"Herman Miller certainly imports a lot of components and raw materials," Schurman said. "In terms of our international suppliers, we have a program that monitors their performance in a variety of aspects, and among them environmental factors play a part when we decide whether or not to continue business contracts."
According to Horton, Kimball Office has an Environmental Task Team that researches all of the components purchased from international suppliers. "We make sure the components are as environmentally sensitive as possible, while still meeting our stringent engineering requirements for product performance, durability and reliability," Horton said. "Our component specifications remain consistent, regardless of where they are sourced."
Like Herman Miller and Kimball, Haworth also has an internal certification process in place. "When these imports come to North America North America, third largest continent (1990 est. pop. 365,000,000), c.9,400,000 sq mi (24,346,000 sq km), the northern of the two continents of the Western Hemisphere. , we need to stay behind them and monitor them," Scitthelm said. "It's important that we have our own process in place to do so."
LEED-CI: A PRIMER
Developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council, provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction. ) program establishes a common measurement for defining the concept of a "green building." LEED-CI (Commercial Interiors) addresses the specifics of tenant spaces, typically in new or existing office, retail and institutional buildings.
The LEED-CI Green Building Rating System awards credits for the following categories: Sustainable Sites (7 credits possible), Water Efficiency (2), Energy and Atmosphere (12), Materials & Resources (14), Indoor Environmental Quality (17), and Innovation and Design Process (5). A minimum of 21 credits must be achieved to earn LEED-CI certification.
Although many believe the program has merit, it is not without its critics. Many wood industry groups, including the American Forest and Paper Assn., argue that LEED only offers credit for wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is a non-profit organization based in Bonn, Germany. The Council's stated mission is "to promote environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable management of the world's forests". . Also garnering criticism by groups such as the Composite Panel Assn. is the fact that products that use urea formaldehyde formaldehyde (fôrmăl`dəhīd'), HCHO, the simplest aldehyde. It melts at −92°C;, boils at −21°C;, and is soluble in water, alcohol, and ether; at STP, it is a flammable, poisonous, colorless gas with a suffocating in the binder binder: see combine.
An earlier Microsoft Office workbook file that let users combine related documents from different Office applications. The documents could be viewed, saved, opened, e-mailed and printed as a group. , notably particleboard and MDF, are not acceptable under the LEED Indoor Environmental Quality criteria, despite their high recycled wood content.
Of special interest to contract furniture manufacturers is the criteria that systems furniture and seating must either comply with set emissions levels for formaldehyde, including 50 parts per billion and 25 parts per billion, respectively, or be Greenguard Indoor Air Quality Certified. Among those certified by Greenguard are: AIS, Allsteel, Bernhardt Design, Descor, Fixtures Furniture, Global Contract, Harter, Haworth, Herman Miller, Kimball Office, Knoll, Loewenstein, Milliken, National Office Furniture, Steelcase, Teknion, Teknion Wood, Trespa, Virco and Zoom Seating.
THE QUESTION OF FORMALDEHYDE
One of the arguments against LEED certification is that it does not give credit far wood products containing formaldehyde, including those made from particleboard and MDF, under claims of "non-compliant emission levels." In order to address these concerns, the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn. recently partnered with the Composite Panel Assn. and the American Home For the American mortgage lender, see .
The American Home is a center of intercultural exchange located in Vladimir, Russia. The home is designed to model a typical American suburban home and its main focus is the ESL school that provides lessons for Russian students. Furnishings furnishings
the extra type or quantity of hair on the head, tail, ears or legs, specified for a particular breed. For example, the feathers in setters, the beard in Bearded collies, the eyebrows in Schnauzers. Alliance to host a Formaldehyde Workshop in Chicago. An estimated 95 people attended the event.
"Customers of office furniture manufacturers are requesting reduced amounts of formaldehyde and other volatile organic compounds volatile organic compound Environment Any toxic cabon-based (organic) substance that easily become vapors or gases–eg, solvents–paint thinners, lacquer thinner, degreasers, dry cleaning fluids in products," said Tom Reardon, BIFMA executive director. "We seek to provide a forum where all members of the supply chain can work collaboratively to address those customers' requests."
However, while customers may be requesting formaldehyde-free products, it appears they are not always willing to pay a premium for the option. Dow BioProducts, manufacturer of Woodstalk, a formaldehyde-free panel made from wheat straw, will cease production by the year's end. According to a release issued by Dow Chemical Canada Inc., "The demand in the marketplace for a high-quality, low-VOC fiberboard fi·ber·board
A building material composed of wood chips or plant fibers bonded together and compressed into rigid sheets.
Noun 1. product was not at a level high enough to generate the returns necessary to sustain the business."
Mark Schurman, director of External Communications for Herman Miller, said Woodstalk was an option on nearly all of Herman Miller's surfaces. "It's a shame, because we had tested a lot of different products in that category, and Dow's product was the first that met our very demanding criteria. The closing has really put us in a spot where we have to look at what is possible out there, and find another supplier or work with someone to get a different product."
NEW BIFMA STANDARD IN THE WORKS
The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn. is beginning work on a sustainable product standard using the open ANSI consensus process According to Tom Reardon BIFMA executive director, the scope of the standard will most likely include the following:
* Human and ecosystem health
* Renewable energy Renewable energy utilizes natural resources such as sunlight, wind, tides and geothermal heat, which are naturally replenished. Renewable energy technologies range from solar power, wind power, and hydroelectricity to biomass and biofuels for transportation. and energy efficiency
* Materials re-utilization
* Water management
* Social accountability
"Our objectives are to create a consensus-based and voluntary Sustainable Furniture Standard that: serves as a viable market-based alternative to emerging proprietary standards Specifications for hardware and software that are developed and controlled by one company. Proprietary standards are technically de facto standards such as Microsoft's Windows and Intel's x86 chip family. Contrast with open standards. and protocols; provides a leadership standard in a comparative multi-tiered performance-based framework; is developed in a transparent process drawing from best practices in the evolving field of sustainability; and defines what sustainability means through criteria based on environmental, economic and social benefits," Reardon said
Value of the U.S. Office Furniture Market (Millions of U.S. Dollars) Year Production Change Imports 2006 * $10,650 6.6% N/A 2005 # 9,995 11.8 N/A 2004 8,935 5.1 $2,022 2003 8,505 -4.3 1,870 2002 8,890 -19.0 1,777 2001 10,975 -17.4 1,806 2000 13,285 8.5 2,094 1999 12,240 -0.9 1,772 1998 12,350 7.8 1,532 1997 11,460 14.1 1,236 1996 10,040 6.4 968 1995 9,435 6.6 798 1994 8,850 8.5 677 1993 8,160 5.8 548 1992 7,710 6.7 440 1991 7,228 -8.1 394 1990 7,863 446 Year Exports Consumption Change 2006 * N/A $12,960 8.8% 2005 # N/A 11,910 12.2 2004 $347 10,610 5.4 2003 307 10,068 -2.5 2002 338 10,328 -16.4 2001 430 12,351 -17.0 2000 496 14,883 9.5 1999 430 13,591 1.2 1998 454 13,428 9.6 1997 443 12,253 15.1 1996 360 10,648 7.7 1995 345 9,888 8.0 1994 375 9,152 9.7 1993 364 8,345 6.6 1992 324 7,826 6.7 1991 288 7,334 -9.1 1990 245 8,064 * Figures Forecast # Figures Estimated Note: Volume reflects the manufacturers' invoice value of new office furniture. These figures do not include refurbished (recycled) furniture (add an estimated 15%) or RTA office furniture (add an estimated $800 million). Consumption is defined as production plus imports, minus exports. Source: The Business and Institutional Mmnufacturers Assn. International