Standards, Certifications & Labels
The level® brand identifies products certified to the ANSI/BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer's Association) e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard. This voluntary standard aims to provide a transparent, consensus-based, multi-attribute standard to evaluate the sustainability attributes of 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 listed on the website.
Raw materials, manufacturing, transportation, end of life
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.
Manufacturers submit products for certification. The data required 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.
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.
Pricing of the standard is $84 for members, and $105 for non-members. See order form: https://bifma.org/secure/orderform.html
Third-party certification fees depend on the certifying organization.
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.
Office Depot, Herman Miller, Steelcase
Cradle to Cradle® Certification, SMaRT© 4.0 Sustainable Product Standard