Wood products sustainability initiatives have become more active as the economy recovers.
Three of the biggest wood products organizations – Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Association (KCMA), American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) and the Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (BIFMA) – operate programs that set standards and targets for greener products and production. BIFMA level, KCMA Environmental Stewardship program (ESP) and the AHFA Sustainable by Design program.
These programs also impact the consumables used in production, including panel products, coatings, and adhesives in panel and component manufacture and laminating. The dovetail with the US Green Building Council LEED and other construction and interior architectural green standards.
Ethan Allen Furniture just became fully compliant with the AHFA’s Sustainable by Design in a process that took it several years. The furniture manufacturer's hope over time is to implement it across all its operational locations.
Sustainable by Design is rooted in AHFA’s 1999 effort, “Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture,” which sought to take furniture manufacturer’s “beyond compliance to true environmental stewardship.” This entails analysis of raw materials used, and manufacturing and management practices. Ethan Allen completed EFEC at five manufacturing plants and one sawmill in August 2012.
Will consumers pay for green? On the business furnishing’s side, there is more pressure to manage indoor air quality – eliminating off gassing of formaldehyde, for example - because of potential liabilities for exposing office and institutional workers to chemicals. So buyers are more receptive or even initiate the green specification in work orders.
On the consumer side, where the customer is making the choice for themselves, the usually more expensive “green” manufactured cabinets and furniture appeal to a niche market. Most consumers want green in theory, but it is within niche markets where individuals are able to do a personal cost-benefit analysis that the green upcharge will be accepted.