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Environmentally friendly office design demands an in depth approach

Posted on April 7, 2015 by Charles Marks

When every office furniture manufacturer makes the same claims about their environmental policies, accreditations and use of materials, those credentials become irrelevant to decisions about which products to buy. The flipside of this is that including an ISO14001 accreditation or any other environmental standard as part of a brief may become a way of weeding out poorly performing firms rather than a positive selection criterion. The most progressive suppliers of contemporary office furniture understand that they must exceed customer expectations to overcome this particular Catch 22 situation. That is why it pays to engage in a proper dialogue with office furniture suppliers to develop a more sophisticated approach to environmentally friendly office design.

For example, take the claim that a piece of furniture is 95 or even 100 per cent recyclable. That may be true, but may not also address the whole life of the product. Good decisions will take into account the durability of ostensibly environmentally unfriendly materials such as chromed steel which may actually be better for the environment over the whole life of the product or the practical issues of how the recyclable materials can be disassembled, replaced and recycled. The design of the furniture is one thing.  The management of it during its life cycle another. A well-developed brief will allow for this level of sophistication to deliver a more environmentally friendly office interior solution for the long term.

The best contemporary office furniture designers understand they need to clarify their messages about the environment, innovate, speak in their own voice and back up their own claims.

In turn, all of us must keep our sometimes habitual scepticism in check. Very few office furniture suppliers set out to mislead their customers. The vast majority never do and have taken genuine steps to deal with the environmental impact of both their products. They have developed groundbreaking office furniture designs backed up by sophisticated services that ensure the very highest environmental standards. Many spend large proportions of their R&D budget on developing new materials, processes and systems that offer world class office interior solutions. They do this for their own ethical reasons and because they understand that they need sophisticated and genuine products to respond to the demands of their customers. We’re in this together after all.