Interior Furnishings

Description of Environmental Purchasing Policy

The Interior Furnishings section of the Environmental Purchasing Policy covers the following Purchasing Services commodity clusters: Carpeting, Furniture, Lockers/Shelving, and Personal Lighting.

According to the Policy, purchasers will replace incandescent light bulbs in personal task lighting (desk, floor lamps, etc.) with compact fluorescent bulbs. To see specifications, please refer to the policy. Purchasers are also strongly encouraged to procure Cradle-to-Cradle certified products and/or follow Scientific Certification Standards, and to follow the Green Label Indoor Air Quality Test Program for carpeting. Purchasers are directed to the EPA’s Comprehensive Procurement Guidelines for products that do not fall under other categories.

It should be noted that architects and other consultants must refer to New York University’s Design Standards & Guidelines for information on NYU’s requirements for materials, finishes and furniture. DSG supersede requirements in the Environmental Purchasing Policy. In addition, all furniture in public areas must comply with CAL-133, which is a composite test to evaluate fully assembled furniture systems on their combustibility performance.

Waste-Reducing Alternatives to Purchasing This Product

Purchasers should contact Purchasing Services to acquire previously used furnishings that meet departmental needs before procuring new goods. Purchasers should also strive to remanufacture or refurbish and repair existing products before purchasing new ones. Reuse is always the greenest and best policy when it comes to environmental friendly purchasing.

What to Consider When Procuring Interior Furnishings

Location: Try to source items manufactured and processed as close as possible to New York. Look on sellers’ websites to find out where materials are sourced, where items are manufactured and where items are stored. If this information is not readily available, request it from the vendor.

Cradle-to-Cradle Certified products: Cradle-to-Cradle certification evaluates components used in products and the production processes in order to maximize health, safety, effectiveness, and high quality reutilization over many product life cycles through a process of scientifically based peer review.  You can find a list of Cradle-to-Cradle Certified products and materials here.  

Scientific Certification Systems: To earn SCS certification, a product must adhere to several different secondary standards, including the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association Sustainability Standard (BIFMA SS), Floor Score, and the Forest Stewardship Council certification.

Waste: The NYU FY2007 Environmental Assessment states that thousands of potentially reusable furniture and office equipment items are discarded annually at NYU. Reusing items is environmentally preferable to purchasing new ones because it avoids the need for pollution-generating transport and disposal of solid waste.  You can arrange with NYU Asset Management to store interior furnishing items, making them available for use by another NYU department. Alternatively, donate used items to a community organization. 

Documentation: When working with a business claiming to sell products adhering to a certain standard, make sure those products are certified. Be wary of green-washing!

Possible Vendors

Below is a list of vendors in the NYU area that offer environmentally friendly interior furnishings. This is not a comprehensive list, and the Sustainability Task Force has not formally evaluated the vendors listed. However, based on thoughtful research, we believe that the following vendors are a good starting point for purchasers in search of sustainable products and services. For a list of organizations that accept donations, please see the Appliances and Electronics section (Section 1) of this Guide.

 If you have any comments, questions, or suggestions of vendors for inclusion in future versions of the Environmental Purchasing Guide, please leave a comment in the box below.


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