CHICAGO – Healthy, sustainable furnishings is a key concern at NeoCon, which opened this morning in Chicago.

Sixty exhibitors are showcasing environmentally sustainable products certified by SCS Global Services. SCS certifies conformance to GreenSquared, BIFMA level, and other environmental standards. SCS says well-crafted environmental and sustainable furniture and building products are increasingly in demand by architects and designers, and local municipalities and schools are requiring LEED construction for new and existing buildings and their interiors.

Steelcase is expected to announce a partnership with three companies to explore and develop antimicrobial treatments. The firms -  Cleanwell Company, NanoBioMatters, and Sharklet Technologies, make natural-based additives that kill germs on work surfaces and employee "touch-points" like drawer fronts and handles.

Germ-free and healthy work environments are increasingly important, says Steelcase, since nearly 35% of the global workforce will be mobile this year, and frequently sharing work spaces with pother mobile workers. anmd also sharing their germs.

“As employees move through these shared workstations, there is an increased need to prevent the sharing of harmful bacteria,” says Allan Smith, VP marketing and applications for Steelcase. He cites a Lancaster University / Elipse Insurance study that found 72% of people report going to work despite being sick and another study that found more than 10 million germs on the average desk.

Steelcase AirTouch height-adjustable desk on display here will incorporate Bactiblock, supplied through the new partnership.

On Wednesday, the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association annual meeting a big announcement is expected regarding products certified under BIFMA's level Sustainability Certification Program for Furniture.

Scheduled to speak are izzy+ CEO Chuck Saylor, President of the BIFMA board; fellow board member Byron Morton, President of Knoll North America,   of Directors; Scot Horst, Sr. VP, LEED, U.S. Green Building Council, CEO & Founder, izzy+, Bill Walsh of the Helathy Building Network; Lisa Sneddon of the Harrington Schopol of Design, and Tom Reardon, Executive Director, BIFMA.


level is BIFMA's sustainability certification program for furniture. Products are certified level 1, level 2, or level 3 ( the highest certification), by a third-party, independent certifying body that measures compliance with the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard.

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