Furniture

There are several environmentally friendly ways to obtain furniture for your UBC office or building.

Before purchasing new furniture, check Reuse-it! UBC to purchase used furniture from other UBC departments at no or low cost, or contact your Facilities Manager, since they may have low-cost used office furniture readily available.

If you must purchase new furniture, choose durable, adaptable products that contain recycled or sustainably-sourced materials and low or no volatile organic compounds (VOCs), to reduce indoor air pollutants in your work space. When a piece of furniture is no longer needed, continue the eco-friendly cycle by listing it on Reuse-it! UBC, or find other ways to extend its life and use and keep it out of the landfill.

Choose
  • Reused or refurbished items, which are available through Reuse-it! UBC
  • High quality, durable, modular and adaptable products
  • Locally manufactured and Canadian-made furniture
  • Low or no VOC-emitting products
  • Furniture made with sustainably-sourced wood (i.e. FSC certified wood)
  • Products containing non-toxic adhesives, paints and coatings
  • Seating and furniture with ergonomic designs
  • Suppliers that can recycle/dispose of products responsibly at the end of their life, through take-back, deconstruction, and donation programs
Avoid
  • Purchasing new, if used is available
  • Low-quality products requiring short-term replacement
  • Furniture styles that outdate easily and are non-functional
  • Furniture without any ecolabels (e.g. GreenGuard, SCS Indoor Advantage), which often contains VOC-emitting chemicals*
  • Wood furniture without the FSC label, which is often made from non-certified tropical hardwoods, or woods that are not from sustainably-harvested sources

Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) are gases given off by indoor sources, including paint, carpet and furniture. VOCs are carbon-based chemicals and can cause health problems, including eye, nose and throat irritation, headache, nausea, dizziness, and skin problems.

Labels to Look for 

Greenguard Certification

Certifies products in more than 15 categories, such as furniture, for low emissions of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs) into indoor air.

SGS Indoor Air Quality

Certifies that furniture and building materials meet indoor air quality standards pertaining to emissions that may be harmful to human health and the environment.

Cradle to Cradle

Certification ensures a product’s life cycle meets criteria that assesses its safety to humans and the environment and its design for future life cycles.

EcoLogo

Certification provides assurance that a product, service or packaging meets rigorous multi-attribute, life cycle–based environmental standards.

Level

A third-party certification program for the furniture industry that takes into account a company’s social actions, energy usage, material selection and human and ecosystem health impacts.

FSC

Certification ensures wood and paper products were created in a manner that is environmentally appropriate, socially beneficial and economically viable.