Green office furniture is any type of office furniture that minimizes its impact on the environment. This includes furniture that has been pre-owned, refurbished or made with recycled content. It also includes furniture that is made to protect office air quality and can be recycled easily after use. Virtually any type of furniture — such as desks, chairs, tables and even lighting — can be considered to be green office furniture if it meets those criteria.
Purchasing used office furniture is one way that business owners or employees can exercise their environmental conscience. Buying recycled office furniture means that no new or finite resources have been used to make the furniture or to help in its construction. For example, buying a used desk protects trees from being cut down, reduces the energy it would take to create the desk in a factory and saves fuel that would be necessary to ship the desk from its manufacturer to the store.
Green office furniture also can be furniture that is specially built to withstand many more years of use than the average piece of furniture. Pieces of office furniture are used, on average, for only 10 years before being discarded. Business owners can help both their pocketbook and the environment by buying extra-sturdy green office furniture that is ready to be recycled after its use.
Green office furniture can also be furniture that ensures that the air quality of an indoor office remains clean and stable. Furniture that isn't built with volatile organic compound (VOC) adhesives and coatings can help protect the air quality's integrity. Furniture that was manufactured using low-VOCs, such as urethane, technically is green. Choosing items that are formaldehyde-free and contain no polyvinyl chloride (PVC) also is a step in the right direction for those who want to have environmentally friendly office furniture.
When looking for lighting solutions, consumers might want to purchase devices that work on less energy than compact fluorescent lights do. Some lights can work on eight to nine watts of power, which is almost 50 percent less power than compact fluorescent lights use. Additionally, these types of green lighting solutions can provide illumination for many hours.
Consumers shopping for green office furniture might question manufacturers' claims about earth-friendliness. If this is the case, they can look for certain certifications on the product. For example, a McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry Cradle to Cradle® certification, GreenGuard® certification or LEED® certification can let consumers know that the products that they're purchasing are sustainable and good for the environment.