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American Home Furnishings Alliance Unveils Eco Label Program

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The American Home Furnishings Alliance unveiled an eco label program during its 2007 Annual Meeting in Charleston, S.C., last week. Called “Sustainable by Design,” the program will provide companies with a roadmap for implementing environmental policies and practices that lead to certification. “Consumers’ attitude toward ‘green’ products has moved from ‘tell me’ to ‘show me’ to, now, ‘prove it to me.’ It is no longer satisfactory to just market a product as ‘green.’ It must be demonstrated,” states Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of environmental management, health, safety and standards. “So companies are faced with ‘verifying’ to the consumer that their implementation of sustainable business practices results in a meaningful ‘green’ product,” he explains. The AHFA program is designed to facilitate continuous improvement by implementing sustainable business practices. It guides companies through measurable steps to reduce their environmental footprint at the manufacturing level and throughout their entire supply chain. AHFA will put the full force of its highly successful public relations program behind the Sustainable by Design program. A broad-based media outreach in 2008 will explain the program and generate editorial coverage that will help consumers understand and look for the Sustainable by Design logo. AHFA’s award-winning consumer website, www.findyourfurniture.com will provide further support for the program, explaining the label’s significance for consumers and offering a list of companies that have earned certification. AHFA led the industry in promoting sound environmental practices when it developed EFEC in 1999. EFEC, which is the acronym for “Enhancing Furniture’s Environmental Culture,” is an environmental management system designed to help furniture manufacturers reduce their environmental footprint. Becoming EFEC-registered requires a company to analyze and better understand the environmental impact of its operations, raw materials and finished products. As a result of this process, EFEC-certified companies experience measurable benefits, including: - Improved regulatory compliance and better relationships with regulatory agencies. - Better management of resources and raw materials. - Reduced energy, water and waste disposal costs. - Improved overall operational performance and efficiency. “At the heart of EFEC is a corporate culture of conservation and environmental stewardship,” Perdue explains. “Sustainable by Design extends that culture throughout the entire supply chain, so no matter where you source your product, you can have a punch list of sustainable business practices and policies you can implement to reduce your environmental footprint.” The punch list includes practices such as using certified wood products, reducing formaldehyde emissions, reducing energy and water consumption, reducing solid waste disposal, developing record-keeping systems and assisting suppliers with sustainability programs. Importantly, every certified Sustainable by Design company must have “attainable numerical goals,” Perdue points out. Companies will be required to prepare an annual status report to AHFA that defines their goals for the coming year and outlines achievement from the previous year. Further, they must be open to a random compliance audit to validate their implementation of sustainable business practices. “AHFA’s Sustainable by Design focuses on producing a corporate culture that revolves around sustainable business practices and continuous improvement,” says Perdue. “We have intentionally created a broad entry point for this program. We intend to help as many companies as possible make measurable improvements.” The American Home Furnishings Alliance – located in High Point, N.C. and Washington, D.C. – is the largest association of home furnishings companies in the world and represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, as well as 225 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide.

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