The EPA has estimated that approximately 3 million tons of office furniture is discarded each and every year, resulting in enormous amounts of wasted resources. In addition, it’s estimated that somewhere between $93 and $100 million in disposal costs per year is being incurred by companies as they try to shed these valuable assets.
Repurposed office furniture is good for your bottom line and benefits the environment as well. It makes good business sense while also supporting the sustainability of our planet. More than 50% of U.S. companies now include repurposed furniture in their annual budgets producing total savings in excess of $1 billion dollars.
1. Conserve Natural Resources
2. Reduce Waste
Repurposing diverts office furniture from the solid waste stream and back into the marketplace. For every pound of natural resources expended in repurposing furniture, it’s estimated between 5 to 9 pounds of original materials used in the manufacture of new product is conserved. In addition, all the labor and energy needed to produce new product is conserved.
3. Create a Healthier Office Environment by Reducing VOC’s
There is no getting around the fact that a certain level of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC’s) are used in the manufacture of office furniture. These VOC’s are released into the office environment in the form of gasses over the life of the furniture. By far the largest amount of VOC gasses are released in the first couple of years of the furniture’s life and rapidly decrease as the furniture ages. By using redistributed furniture, you are putting furniture into the work environment that has a much lower VOC profile and thus is much friendlier to your employees.
4. Office Furniture Is Built To Have a Long Lifespan
Most office furniture is built to have a long lifespan, 20-30 years on average. Just because companies decide to make changes in a year or two does not mean office furniture is needlessly predestined to being discarded at the dump.
5. Contribute LEED points
Repurposed office furniture can receive LEED points towards certification in the areas of waste management (diverted from landfills), materials and resource reuse, and recycled content. Credit can also be earned through improved environmental quality resulting from the use of low-emitting materials. The use of repurposed office furniture can potentially influence up to 15 LEED certification points in the categories of Materials and Resources, Indoor Environmental Quality, and Innovation and Design Process.
Repurposed office furniture will help you save money and save the environment at the same time. Take a close look at the requirements of your project, and consider incorporating repurposed furniture in your design – it’s the smart move.
Jim Van Horn is Senior Vice President at Restyle Furniture – they put together large commercial and multiproperty furniture projects at 1/2 the cost of new, in 1/3 of the time, using a strategy that combines repurposed, remanufactured, and new sources.