In response to the demand for independently verified sustainable furnishing fabrics, NSF International, a developer of American National Standards, has developed an official American national standard for sustainable commercial furnishing fabrics – NSF/ANSI 336: Sustainability Assessment for Commercial Furnishings Fabric.
Developing national standards by which to measure a product’s sustainability attributes brings transparency and credibility to the marketplace and helps eliminate greenwashing. Independent, third-party organizations can now certify commercial furnishing fabrics against the new Sustainable Commercial Furnishings standard. This will serve as another tool for facility managers, designers, architects, and purchasing agents when choosing sustainable fabrics for use in their products and facilities.
The science-based standard (NSF/ANSI 336) addresses the environmental, economic, and social aspects of fabrics used in commercial furniture and other furnishings. A variety of fabrics can be certified to the standard, including woven, non-woven, bonded, and knitted fabrics used for upholstery (e.g. office and hotel furniture), as well as vertical fabrics (e.g. drapery, panel system fabrics) and decorative top of bed applications (e.g. bedspreads) that are commonly used in institutional, hospitality, and office settings. The standard also incorporates life cycle assessment criteria, which measures inputs, outputs, and environmental impacts of textile products across their entire lifespan, from cradle to grave.
The standard outlines several criteria that are used to measure a product’s sustainability attributes. The criteria are divided into categories such as fiber sourcing, water and energy use, and recycling practices, and a weighted point system is assigned to each category. A fabric’s total score determines Compliant, Silver, Gold or Platinum tier certification. For example, a product certified Compliant meets entry level criteria, and Platinum adheres to the most strenuous requirements.
“Products making environmental claims continue to enter the marketplace and third-party certification to national standards such as this helps eliminate greenwashing and cultivates confidence in buyers and the public that a product is sustainably produced,” said Jane Wilson, NCSS Director, NSF International.
“Although the economic downturn has created many challenges, the contract textile industry has responded with this proactive sustainability standard that will help differentiate their products in the global marketplace and contribute to the long term sustainability and success of the industry,” said Janan Rabiah, Executive Director, Association for Contract Textiles.