NSF Sustainability, a division of global independent public health organization NSF International, has partnered with emissions testing leader Materials Analytical Services, LLC (MAS) to offer VOC (volatile organic compounds) emission testing for the commercial and institutional furniture industry. This new service will help companies save costs and time by providing all testing and validation services needed to complete BIFMA level® certification for sustainable furniture.
Third-party validated low-VOC emission claims are important to companies as well as institutional and government organizations that are looking to protect occupants’ health by sourcing safer building and furnishing products. VOCs are a large group of organic chemicals that are emitted as gases from several products including building materials and furnishings. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, concentrations of many VOCs can be up to ten times higher indoors than outdoors and short-term exposure to high levels of some VOCs can cause headaches, dizziness, light-headedness, drowsiness, nausea, and eye and respiratory irritation.
BIFMA level® certification includes requirements for low-VOC emissions and other sustainable criteria such as a product life cycle assessment, use of rapidly renewable or recycled materials, an operating environmental management system, reduction or elimination of chemical of concern and other human health, product and corporate sustainability criteria.
Completing VOC emission testing and earning BIFMA level® certification satisfies state and federal purchasing requirements for commercial furniture and may contribute points toward a building’s LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification. This includes the purchasing requirements of local, state and federal government agencies trying to comply with U.S. Executive Order 13514, which aims for 95 percent of government contracts to include products and services with sustainable attributes (e.g. energy and water efficiency, recycled content).
“Validating low VOC emissions through credible third-party testing plays a key role in protecting public health and is crucial for furniture companies that wish to win business with government agencies and companies with responsible sourcing practices. Earning BIFMA level® certification from NSF International takes this commitment a step further by validating the sustainable and environmental attributes of institutional and commercial furniture. By offering both services, NSF can help companies streamline the testing and certification process, saving time and increasing speed to market,” said Tom Bruursema, NSF Sustainability General Manager.