Considering the melange of products out there in the market, the LEVEL® certification body by BIFMA helps provide clarity through the chaos, which is much needed with the barrage of sustainability certifications. BIFMA has now joined hands with Love That Design, and with this, we welcome the start of a new era of green products.
“Love that Design brings clarity to a very confusing world of sustainability certifications,” says Steve Kooy, Technical Director at BIFMA. “Designers and manufacturers cannot chase the endless information, and there is simply no time. Love that Design curates the information while allowing the stakeholder to dive deeper by connecting to the certification or manufacturer as needed.”
BIFMA (Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association) is a not-for-profit trade association serving business and institutional furniture manufacturers. Since 1973, the organisation has been an industry leader in developing furniture safety, durability, and sustainability standards that ensure product performance and inspire confidence. They are also the creators of the popular certification, LEVEL® , which aims to deliver an open and transparent certification for the environmental, and social impacts of furniture products, in the built environment. The certification program assesses impacts across environmental health and wellness, and social criteria following the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard.
What is the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Sustainability Standard and what is it’s relationship with LEVEL?
As a multi attribute standard, e3 addresses material utilisation, energy and atmosphere impacts, human and ecosystem health, and social responsibility. Manufacturers evaluate products to the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard under an independent third party certification process to achieve the LEVEL® conformance mark. The standard is modeled after LEED with specific prerequisites, optional credits, and three conformance levels, with level 3 certification being the highest. Like all voluntary BIFMA standards, manufacturers are encouraged to use the standard, meet the criteria, and declare their conformance to the market.
The newest version of the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture sustainability standard was published in February 2019. The 2014 version remained available for use until February of 2020. After which, the three-year LEVEL® certifications are required to use the new version upon recertification.
“The ANSI/BIFMA e3 Standard intentionally went into the marketplace to work with manufacturers, environmental groups, designers and government regulators to evaluate sustainable furniture through a common lens,” says Steve. “As a group of stakeholders, we continue to evolve the standard to address the growing interest in sustainable products. Working together aligns expectations so the focus is on sustainability rather than paperwork.”
“Without a tool like Love That Design, designers and manufacturers can be overwhelmed with the options and information found on the internet. Information overload leads to indecision or no decision at all. BIFMA works with groups like Love That Design to get the message across. Allow stakeholders to focus what’s most important or, should they wish to dive deeper, access the additional information through the transparency tools on our website”
– Steve Kooy, Technical Director at BIFMA International
What do the three certification levels represent?
BIFMA level certification applicants can pursue credits in four categories: Materials, Energy and Atmosphere, Human and Ecosystem Health, and Social Responsibility. Each category features prerequisites as well as credits related to products, manufacturing facilities and the organisation as a whole.
Based on the points accumulated, manufacturers can earn one of three possible levels of certification:
level 1 – 32-44 points
level 2 – 45-62 points
level 3 – 63-100 points for BIFMA, and 63-94 for FEMB
LEVEL also helps contribute to other popular sustainability building certifications, such as LEED, WELL, and the Living Building Challenge.
At present, there are over 4,600 LEVEL® certified products
When it comes to sustainability with all its breadth and complexity, third-party certification mechanisms are the best tool for consumers to separate legitimate claims from those that may not be legitimate. At present, there are over 4,600 LEVEL® certified products, far more than any other sustainability standard with multiple attributes. All are listed on the searchable LEVEL database. There is no added cost to your client or your firm to use these products, so this is a great place to start when making furniture selections that you can trust will meet environmental, social and wellness criteria.
“Having sustainability as a purchasing requirement can be a complex undertaking,” says Steve. “Specifying LEVEL® certified products simplifies the process by measuring products to the same standard. In the case of LEVEL®, that is the ANSI/ BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard. Having a free public registry for use in finding and verifying products further promotes buying confidence.”