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AHFA Reports That Home Furnishings Industry Has Made Environmental Improvements

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The American Home Furhishings Alliance reported that the world’s leading companies are integrating sustainability considerations into their core business practices. Within the home furnishings industry, the AHFA has institutionalized this process and made it accessible to companies large and small. 

On the large end of the scale, four of the top 25 sources for the U.S. furniture market* have completed AHFA’s voluntary environmental management program known as EFEC – or "Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture." They include La-Z-Boy (both residential upholstery and case goods companies American Drew, Kincaid and Lea Industries), Flexsteel Industries (including DMI), Hooker Furniture (including Sam Moore and Bradington Young upholstery divisions), and Bassett Furniture (Newton, N.C., upholstery plant only). 

One more top 25 company – Franklin – is expected to complete the program later this year in 1.1 million square feet of manufacturing space at three plants, plus its corporate headquarters.  

In addition, Furniture Brands International recently announced 24 separate facilities operated by Lane, Thomasville, Broyhill, Henredon, Drexel Heritage, Maitland Smith, Pearson and Laneventure, along with the Furniture Brands corporate headquarters in St. Louis, Mo., will implement the EFEC program. One Furniture Brands company, Hickory Chair, completed EFEC in 2008.  

Leggett & Platt Consumer Products Unit, another Top 25 source, also has announced plans to implement EFEC in 13 facilities in six states. The first, a High Point, N.C., components plant, became EFEC registered in March.

Along with these top 25 sources, four additional furniture companies have completed EFEC: Century Furniture, C.R. Laine, Fairfield Chair and Vaughan-Bassett.  

"The combined impact of the environmental improvements made by the companies that have completed the EFEC program is staggering," reports AHFA Vice President Bill Perdue, who oversees the program for the association.  

To achieve registration, a facility must: 

  • Improve management of resources and raw materials;

  • Reduce energy and water consumption; and,

  • Reduce waste disposal and associated costs.

Altogether, this comprehensive environmental program – which calls on participants to make continual improvements and undergo an annual maintenance audit to retain their registration – has been implemented at 37 different U.S. facilities, including manufacturing plants, warehouses and corporate headquarters buildings, in 11 different states. 

For companies implementing the program in 2009, the cost savings resulting from reduced waste being sent to landfills ranged from $37,000 to $95,000. Electricity use was reduced by 5 to 22 percent. Water use was reduced by 5 to 20 percent. An increased focus on recycling generated significant new revenue for several companies, including over $400,000 at Bradington Young and over $1.9 million at La-Z-Boy’s Dayton, Tenn., upholstery plant – one of six La-Z-Boy upholstery operations that implemented EFEC in 2009. 

"In a year when every operational dollar had to be scrutinized, these companies realized significant savings and found sources of new income," says Perdue. "EFEC companies discover that there is a positive correlation between environmental stewardship and profitable performance."  

AHFA member companies pay nothing to enter the program. A comprehensive guidance document helps steer the EFEC implementation team at each facility through the steps required for registration. In addition, assistance and training is available from the AHFA professional staff, and the growing number of registered facilities is resulting in a comprehensive "best practices" resource on the AHFA website. 

Due to the growing demand for an established environmental management program specifically designed for the residential furniture industry, AHFA is presently evaluating making EFEC available to non-member companies on a fee basis. 

The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., is the largest association of home furnishings companies in the world and represents more than 230 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus about 160 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. 

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