Steelcase’s Think chair is arguably the most environmentally benign piece of furniture ever–free of PVCs, CFCs, VOCs, and other bad seeds from the chlorine family. This past November, the company’s 100% recyclable Answer product line became the first workstation to win cradle-to-cradle certification. And that, apparently, was only the beginning: This pioneer in high-performance, environmentally sustainable office furniture is now preparing to roll out an online diagnostic tool — the inelegantly named Eco-Design Project — to help companies assess their products’ environmental footprint. An online questionnaire will collect data on materials, production processes, use, disposal, and myriad other factors; an algorithm will then analyze the user’s choices with respect to human health, the environment, and the bottom line. “Since the diagnostic combines life-cycle thinking and materials chemistry, it gives you a very complete environmental picture of your product’s impact,” says Allan Smith, Steelcase’s chief of environmental strategy. “Product development teams can then use the analysis as a benchmark for, say, eliminating all carcinogens.” No longer just a furniture maker, Steelcase is now manufacturing intelligence.
Source: Bill Breen, Fast Company; Mar, 2007