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Sustainable by Design


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The term sustainability can be difficult to define for the contemporary furniture designer/manufacturer. Sustainability can mean social responsibility, use of non-polluting technologies and certified materials, employment fairness and more. Though these "manufacturing with a conscience" ideals cannot be argued with, often they are difficult to implement on a regular basis. To encompass these practices we need to be responsible for the production cycle from raw material acquisition through to manufacture, end use and final disposal.


Take-Back Laws: More than 28 countries, primarily in Europe, have already passed product “take-back” laws that assign the responsibility for the disposal of end-of-life products and packaging to the manufacturer. (source)


In the 1970s, E.F. Schumacher and George McRobie originated the concept of designers using "appropriate" technology to develop products to meet the needs of local communities and economies. Despite their pioneering work, forty years later our use of technology remains largely "inappropriate" as consumerism, not environmental concerns, continues to be the primary motivation for product development.

What drives designers to create more products? Does the world need another chair design? The design community needs to discuss these issues within the larger context of the environmental health of the planet.

Design-based smaller-scale furniture manufacturers are well suited to reduce waste, emissions, energy, toxicity and dangerous work practices at the drawing board. VCR page green options provides a guide to environmentally friendly materials in furniture production.

Eco Information

A European consortium, (eLCA), has developed the EcoSMEs website to provide eco-information to smaller-scale manufacturers. These links have the most relevance to furniture production:

  · Wood products > Training (click "continue" for more pages)
  · Wood products > Office desks > Info

IDSA Information

The Industrial Designers Society of America makes available Business-Ecodesign Tools an eight page booklet with an overview of ecodesign best practices.

In addition IDSA provides extensive links to websites with application to green product design.

BIFMA Information

The Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA) promotes its Level™ furniture certification standard which is implemented by third-party organizations such as Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) and NSF.


Contemporary Sustainable Manufacturers

· 608 Design
· Baltix Furniture
· Blueline Office Furniture
· Brandrud Furniture
· Peter Danko
· EcoSofa
· Edsbyn AB
· ESO Group
· EcoBalanza
· Herman Miller
· Keilhauer
· Knoll

· Krug
· Lamults
· Francis Lemieux
· Montana Møbler
· Olive Designs
· Schiavello (PDF)
· Studio eg
· Teknion (PDF)
· Trannon
· Vitra
· Wharington International
· Wilkhahn

Furniture Sustainability Reports

· EPA Profile of the Wood Furniture and Fixtures Industry
· Establishing Sustainable Manufacturing Practices in SMEs (AU) (PDF)
· From Forest to Furniture (PDF)
· Green Seal - Office Furniture
· Sustainability Guidelines for Office Furniture Mfgs and Supls. (PDF)
· Viridian - ecofurniture
· Waste Reduction Guide for Furniture Industries (PDF)
· Whats in the Design? (PDF)

General Sustainability Reports

· Cradle to Cradle Design (book review)
· Integrated Environmental Mgmt. Systems (IEMS) Publications
· Design for Sustainability (PDF)
· Ecodesign tools
· Jobs or the Environment?
· Next Industrial Revolution (Atlantic Magazine)
· Prophet of Bloom (Wired Magazine)
· Recycling Metals for the Environment (PDF)
· Understanding the Value of a Hardwood Forest (NS)
· The beautiful, durable and mundane (PDF)
· What is Sustainable Manufacturing?

VCR Articles: Sustainable Design (1997-2013)

· Eco-friendly Furniture Panel
· Coast Seeks Certification
· Chain-of-Custody Explained
· Sense, Size and Sustainability
· Eco Wood Co-op Opens
· Tuscany Goes Greener
· Olympian Objective
· PDFs - Sustainability
· Olympian Objective
· Eco Selection Extra

· From Bin to Bench
· Students go Green
· Brooklyn's Best Boards
· Eco Daycares
· How Green Is my MDF?
· Sustainable by Design
· EU Eco-label
· Greener Guides
· Eco Comparisons




Value-Created Reviews's top nine books on sustainable design (in association with Amazon).


Sustainable - Overview

· Behind the logos

Sustainable - Canada

· Build Smart (BC)
· Canadian Business for
  Social Responsibility

· Canadian Centre for
  Pollution Prevention

· Canadian Environmental
· Canadian Sustainability
  Indicators Network

· EcoDesign Resource Soc.
· Eco-Efficiency Centre (NS)
· International Institute for
  Sustainable Development

Sustainable - US

· BIFMA (Level)
· Cradle to Cradle Design
· Green Design Educ.
· Sustainability Store
· SustainableBusiness.com
· Sustainable Furniture Coun.
· Treehugger

Sustainable - Worldwide

· Ameublement Durable (FR)
· BioThinking
· Business for Social

· Centre for Sust. Design (UK)
· Change Design
· D4S - Design for
· Eco Design Foundation
· Green Maven
· INSnet
· Matrec (IT)
· o2 Design Network
· OEKOpro database (DE)
· Rematerialise
· WWW Virtual Library


· VCR Ecoforestry

Environmental Health/Safety

· VCR Health and Safety


· Eco Invent
· eLCA
· Granta Design
· PRé


· Green Building News
· Green Magazine
· Journal of Sustainable
   Product Design

· Recycling Today