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Interior Concepts on Recycling, Sustainability & Call Center Furniture Design

TMCnews Featured Article

April 21, 2006

Interior Concepts on Recycling, Sustainability & Call Center Furniture Design

By Stefania Viscusi, Assignment Desk Editor

The saying "Reduce, Reuse & Recycle" is a reminder of the vital need to protect our environment. And with Earth Day just around the corner, now is a better time than ever to highlight this importance.
In the world of furniture design, using earth-friendly materials and recycled products minimizes waste and enhances sustainability.
The cost benefits associated with furniture that can withstand prolonged usage makes sustainability an especially significant factor in furniture design.
Interior Concepts, manufacturer and designer of furniture, promotes the use of recycled materials to preserve natural resources. TMCnet had a chance to speak briefly with them about sustainability and the benefits of environmentally conscious furniture design. Here is what they had to say:
How would you define sustainability in relation to call center furniture design and how big of a role does it play when designing furniture for a place like a call center?
As a generic definition, sustainability means wisely using and conserving today’s natural resources so that future generations will have resources available to meet their needs. In providing furniture it is important that the manufacturer be “environmentally friendly, i.e., uses materials in such a way as to conserve resources. The sustainability factor becomes “magnified” or even more important with a call center as the furniture purchase could easily consist of several hundred workstations.  Thus, if you wisely use resources in designing and manufacturing one station, just think of the impact over hundreds of stations.      
In your opinion, why are recycled products important in the development of furniture?
Furniture is of course a multi-billion dollar global business. The use of recycled products is critical in that this practice eliminates or reduces the need to consume valuable natural resources. The recycling of such things as furniture fabrics, particleboards, steel, etc., has an exponential effect on a global scale. The resources "saved" or "conserved" through these programs can then be passed on to future generations.   
Besides the environmental benefits that come from recycling, how can companies realize profit from the use of recycled products?
Consumers and businesses are rightly becoming more environmentally sensitive and friendly and organizations such as LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) have gained prominence. Purchasing decisions are being made with sustainability playing an increasingly important role. On the other end of the spectrum many recycled materials can now be purchased even more economically than “new” materials. Thus, the environmental priority coupled with an ever-increasing ability to purchase recycled materials is creating a profit incentive for those companies that approach it properly.  
How is Interior Concepts answering to the need for sustainability and the new push in environmental awareness when it comes to furniture design? Can you provide some examples?
Interior Concepts utilizes recycled and environmentally safe materials in the design and manufacturing of its products. For example, the particleboard substrates that we use in manufacturing our work surfaces are made with 100% recycled and recovered wood fibers; thus, no new trees are harvested for this product. Another example would be our use of panel fabrics. All of our fabrics are Green-e certified, made of recycled materials that can be composted and are manufactured in a way that they too can be recycled. Additionally, Interior Concepts follows active recycling programs in its offices and manufacturing facilities and adheres to packing and shipping procedures designed to conserve resources. Finally, Interior Concepts offers a Lifetime Warranty on its furniture; this means that the customer will not have to re-purchase this furniture as they might with other more expendable products. These practices and others are outlined in the Interior Concepts Policy on Environmental Practices.         
How do you see the future of call center furniture design?
The trend in call center furniture design is to larger and more ergonomically equipped workstations. Companies are placing a much higher priority on employee comfort and the reduction of worker’s compensation claims – thus larger, ergonomically equipped stations. Durability is also critical-- call centers need and furniture that will withstand the rigors of extensive use. 
Stefania Viscusi is an established writer and avid reader. To see more of her articles, please visit Stefania Viscusi’s columnist page.

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