Submitted by: Erin Nemshick, Account Development Representative, Humanscale

Once the domain of tree-huggers and whale-lovers, green has gone mainstream. It’s now not only responsible, but fashionable to be—and buy—green.

So how can your company embrace the green revolution? A true commitment to the environment takes more than a strategically placed recycle bin. A business’ purchasing decisions are often a reflection of its commitment to the environment, particularly in office furnishings. In addition to long-term impact on the environment, a company’s choices for its interiors are tied to its ability to receive state and local incentives through the U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Rating System™.

As businesses make more sustainable purchasing decisions, manufacturers have saturated the market with green products—so it can be tough to determine which eco-friendly options are best for your company and the environment. When it comes to office furnishings, there are eight important factors you can consider to ensure maximum sustainability:

  1. Product Weight — Products that weigh less require less raw material and consume fewer natural resources. Lightweight products also reduce the energy and fuel required for transport.
  2. Number of Parts — Products with fewer parts indicate fewer manufacturing processes, less shipping, and less packaging—all of which save energy and carbon emissions.
  3. Recycled and Recyclable Content— While recyclability is often a hallmark of a green product, use of recycled materials is a better sign of earth-conscious manufacturing. Look for products that contain both.
  4. Aluminum Composition — Aluminum content indicates quality and sustainability. Since it never degrades, aluminum can be recycled infinitely. Aluminum products are more likely to be recycled since its scrap gains a higher premium than products made of less valuable components, like recyclable plastic.
  5. Easy Disassembly and Repair— Products designed for easy disassembly are more likely to be recycled. And, easy-to-repair products—such as chairs with replaceable cushions and casters—last longer. These products decrease the waste and energy associated with disposal and entire product replacement.
  6. Less Packaging — Products and packaging designed to use the fewest and smallest boxes possible reduce waste and allow more items to fit on delivery trucks to cut back on emissions and fossil fuels.
  7. Quality and Durability — Quality counts in sustainability. Though pricier, long-lasting, high-performance products offer more value and less impact on the environment by limiting replacement and disposal frequency.
  8. Additional Green Practices — Choose manufacturers that lead by example—those that utilize green vendors themselves and that support environmental causes and organizations.

With the available options on the market today, you won’t have to sacrifice function or style for sustainability. But a little homework is necessary to ensure your green buying decisions are as earth-friendly as possible.

Humanscale is the premier designer and manufacturer of sustainable, high-performance ergon