Image provided by GC3 member Steelcase
ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard and the level® certification program
Standards, Certifications & Labels
The ANSI/BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association) e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard is a voluntary standard that aims to provide a transparent, measurable, consensus-based and mulit-attribute standard to evaluate the sustainability attributes of business and institutional furniture products. Third-party certifiers conduct independent reviews to confer the "level®" certification on furniture products meeting the standard. This certification enables retailers to make informed choices about commercial furniture; certified products are available on the website.
The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) International
Industry trade organization
Raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, end of life
Air emissions, ecological health, energy use, human health, material impacts, social responsibility
The level sustainability standard is divided into four basic elements: materials, energy and atmosphere, human and ecosystem health, and social responsibility. Within each of the four sections, credits can be acquired based on a product's adherence to, or achievements beyond the requirements. The level brand identifies a product that has been vetted by an independent third party certifier. A rating of 1, 2, or 3 indicates which threshold of certification it has achieved, with level 3 certification being the highest (similar to a platinum ranking in the LEED rating system). ANSI.BIFMA has also published a Chemicals of Concern list with over 500 chemicals that manufacturers and retailers should be aware of.
Manufacturers submit products for certification. The data required of them is primarily documentation and process audit data. The type of data varies based on the specific credit requirements but falls into the four categories: materials, energy and atmosphere, human and ecosystem health, and social responsibility. In materials for example, the prerequisite is that a design for environment (DFE) program must be in place, followed by an assessment of a variety of component parts. There are rewards for reporting and eventually reducing or eliminating chemicals on the list from finished products and manufacturing processes.
Pricing of the standard is $84 for members, and $105 for non-members. See order form: https://bifma.org/secure/orderform.html Evaluation by 2nd or 3rd parties is not included.
Re-assessment is required every 3 years unless a material or process change is implemented sooner that could impact conformance. Level certification requires annual surveillance audits.
Strengths: The focus of the standard is continuous improvement. It is the first furniture standard to include a chemicals of concern list.
Weaknesses: The credit structure may ignore some potential environmental impacts.
Cradle to Cradle® Certification, SMaRT© 4.0 Sustainable Product Standard
Brad Miller: firstname.lastname@example.org