As a multi-attribute standard, level® not only provides information on indoor air quality and material composition, level® covers issues related to LCAs, social responsibility, and ecosystem impacts. Additionally, level® is the first standard to provide a published chemicals of concern list. With level®, you will be able to bypass the proprietary standards and evaluate products using an open, consensus based protocol of environmental impact.
In essence, the standard provides a “level” playing field when it comes to environmental reporting.
The level® sustainability certification follows the structure of the USGBC’s LEED® rating system. Within each of the four sections of the standard, credits can be acquired based on the products adherence to, or achievements beyond the proscribed requirements. Each section within the standard has a prerequisite, however simply meeting the prerequisite does not award the product any points.
As we conducted our research while the standard was being developed, we found that there was a lack of clarity about what the use of the precious metal nomenclature actually meant. As a result, we chose a more straightforward approach that would also provide the flexibility to add new levels to the program in the future. As we are in a continuous improvement mode with the standard, we foresee a day when there may be a level® 4 and perhaps higher.
The list of manufacturers evaluating products to level® continues to grow each month. Presently, Herman Miller, Steelcase, Kimball Office, National, Allsteel, HON Company, and Gunlocke are a few of the companies with conforming product. We encourage you to sign up for email notifications on the Contact Us page.
As level® is new to the contract furnishings market, the first wave of products was somewhat limited when launched in 2008. However, many manufacturers committed to the standard and, as of August 2012, over 2,000 products had been level® certified as conforming to the ANSI/BIFMA e3 Furniture Sustainability Standard. We anticipate that many other companies will certify their products in time. The process can take a few years as it requires operational, manufacturing and resource allocation changes.
level® certified products carry the level® name either in the form of a hang tag or on the product literature your furniture system or chair comes with. The third-party certifiers are also listing the certified products on their web sites and we will also be launching a products section to the levelcertified.org web site.
Remember, only products carrying the level® name have been certified by a third-party auditing firm that has used the BIFMA e3 Sustainability Standard.
Yes, level® has three conformance thresholds within the standard. Products can be awarded a level® 1, level® 2 or level® 3 compliance mark based on their contribution and points achieved. level® 3 is the highest award a product can achieve and is similar to a platinum ranking in the LEED® rating system.
No product can claim it is “LEED® Certified”, but level® certified products may contribute to the required attributes LEED® and other green ratings systems require. With level®, material composition, life cycle analysis (LCA), recycled percentage composition, chemicals, and eco and human health impacts are accounted for. The level® sustainability certification can account for more attributes than any other standard. Your manufacturer’s representative can help you determine how the product will help contribute to the rating system you’re using. However with level®, the process becomes simplified.
While level® can’t claim to change the world we live in, the standard gives manufacturers the ability to begin to move down the path of sustainability by providing them a way to report their product’s environmental impact.
level® provides the opportunity to look at products through a consistent metric and judge them on the attributes you consider most important when it comes to sustainability.
The level® standard is an inclusive standard. A product that is compliant to the ANSI/BIFMA furniture emissions indoor air quality standards, the 2008 State of California purchase criteria, or the 2009 Collaborative for High Performance Schools low-emitting materials criteria for teacher’s desks and administrative furniture meets the emissions requirements within level®. At the same time, manufacturers who are adhering to standards that include life cycle assessment thresholds will have those and potentially other aspects contribute to their achieving those requirements within level®.
Alternately, level® offers manufacturers and end users an opportunity to follow one multi-attribute, consensus based standard that’s open and transparent. There are competing proprietary standards vying for the building community’s attention. It’s been said that sustainability isn’t a destination but a journey. With level®, we have developed a standard that accounts for sustainability in a holistic way allowing companies from all segments of the industry to be a part of that journey.
BIFMA is the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. It has been in operation since 1973 and is responsible for the development of ANSI standards on safety, indoor air emissions, and other national and international standards in use today. Additional information about BIFMA can be found at www.bifma.org