About the Standard
With level®, customers can make informed choices about commercial furniture that exceed single attribute eco-certifications. The level brand identifies that a product has been vetted by an independent third party certifier and its numeric marking 1, 2, or 3 indicates what threshold of certification it has achieved.
Manufacturers – big and small – now have a methodology to present the environmental characteristics in a clear, easily understood manner with a vernacular that gives end users the ability to make an “apples to apples” comparison.
Since 2006, the Joint Committee on Furniture Sustainability, a volunteer group of stakeholders from inside and outside of the industry, has undertaken the development of the first open, consensus based, sustainability standard for the furniture industry. Using the ANSI process, over 125 participants contributed to committees and sub-committees to develop the ANSI/BIFMA e3-2010 Furniture Sustainability Standard. The e3 Standard is now in its fourth edition (e3-2014e) and in continuous maintenance mode by the Joint Committee.
Financial support for development and maintenance of this ANSI Standard is underwritten by the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association (BIFMA), the owner of the standard, with in-kind support from NSF International, the Standards Development Organization (SDO)
The ANSI Process
Developed with American National Standards Institute (ANSI) oversight in mind, level® has to function in ways proprietary standards do not. The ANSI process requires full transparency, open and balanced participation in the standard’s creation, and a consensus based approach to dealing with all issues related to the standard. Additionally, level certification assures that an accredited third-party has verified a specific product’s conformance to the standard.
Inherent in the standard is an understanding that it is in a state of continual maintenance and review. This means that as part of the standard’s evolution, any emerging issues will be reviewed on an ongoing basis through the ANSI process as opposed to issues being addressed through a “batched” approach. As a result, the level sustainability standard will be undergoing constant improvements that will be fully open to public input and discourse. In the standards world, this concentration on “real time”, continuous improvement for sustainability is necessary due to the growing body of scientific knowledge on these issues as well as the urgent need for actions to benefit the planet.
The American National Standards Institute works to develop and assure the safety and health of consumers and the environment by overseeing the creation and use of norms and guidelines that directly impact business. ANSI is also actively engaged in accrediting programs that assess conformance to both quality driven and ISO 14000 (environmental) management systems.
BIFMA supports the ANSI mission of promoting and facilitating voluntary consensus standards and conformity assessment systems and ensuring their integrity. Only ANSI-Accredited Standards Developers may submit standards through the ANSI approval process. Adhering to this process demonstrates that the standards developer is committed to an open, fair and time-tested consensus process benefiting both stakeholders and the public.
The world of environmentally responsible products and manufacturing is now more clear. Commercial furniture that meets the demands of environmentally focused purchasing is now level. BIFMA has adhered to this process and its influence can be seen throughout both the standard itself and in how level is being brought to market.