News at the Business & Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Assn. Intl breakfast meeting centered around the new "level" sustainability standard and certification process. Full-scale promotion of the program kicked off at NeoCon 2009, with great interest being shown by manufacturers and designers alike.

Modeled after the U.S. Green Building Council's LEED Rating System, level provides "measureable, market-based definitions of progressively more sustainable performance criteria that address environmental and social aspects throughout the supply chain." Although not yet approved by ANSI, the standard is already in use by many association members, said Tom Reardon, BIFMA executive director.

The association is working with NSF and Scientific Certification Systems, as well as other third-party certification bodies, to conduct the level audit process to certify products to one of three conformance thresholds within the standard. The thresholds are similar to LEED's silver, gold and platinum ratings system, with level 3 being the highest achievable award.

Level, Reardon said, "represents a step forward," and ranks as one of the most significant accomplishments by the association.

"It is a continuous improvement process," he added, "and provides a clarity and consistency of [our environmental] message to the marketplace."

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