Wednesday, July 10, 2013

The value of a sustainable workspace

Have you ever wondered what exactly makes a room green?  Custer, a sustainable design and furniture company in West Michigan, is a specialist in this field and has worked on many such projects.  Here are some ways Custer has transformed everyday offices into greener life and work spaces:
  • Lighting.  Lighting obviously utilizes energy and a number of companies provide industrial and commercial lighting that is considerably less energy intensive. Light Corp is ISO 14001 registered and meets requirements and policy specifications that take into account environmental laws and impact. Their LED lighting is 92% recycled and their T5 fluorescent lighting is 87% recycled. LED lighting utilizes light-emitting diodes as the source of light.  These diodes can emit large amounts of lumens while using a smaller amount of wattage. 
  • Desk space. The process of manufacturing furniture can be greener, making the products themselves greener. Enwork, for example, offers their clients the specific details of how their desks are produced and delivered: products, manufacturing, and packaging. The wood used for desks comes from the scrap generated by other industries; it is 100% post-industrial recycled content. In 2007, Enwork switched from PVC edging to ABS, which is a chlorine-free product that can be disposed of with general waste. They use water-based, solvent-free adhesives on their wood to eliminate overexposure to harmful toxins. Also, Enwork either recycles, reuses, or re-manufactures most of their product. 
  • Chairs. Wondering how sustainable a chair can be? Well, seating companies like Cumberland cover all the bases. They do not use any endangered rainforest wood species in their chairs, and they only purchase wood from companies that openly practice sustainable forestry. The foam that is used by Cumberland for chairs is called BioFlex and is manufactured with soybeans grown by American farmers. Their leather supplier is 100% recyclable, meaning no leather will end up sitting in landfills.  Also, Cumberland does not use plated chrome for their metal products which can emit unfriendly waste; instead they use stainless steel. 
  • Walls.  Even these can be designed or installed sustainably. Trendway, another business Custer uses, has numerous LEED commercial interior products including Trendwall. They reuse 30% of their movable walls in projects. A typical wall has a combined total of 46.3% recycled materials by weight; this means close to half of each wall is made with recycled material. They also are credited for projects they do using a minimum of 20% of materials that are manufactured, harvested, or recovered within 500 miles of their home base in Holland, Michigan. 
Take a look around your office and think about the energy-saving and sustainable products and technologies available to you. If you are considering a redesign for productivity, efficiency, or cost reasons, consider also how new green technology can aid you in your goals.

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