Interesting labels and certifications to consider when buying office furniture

Everyone wants to offer the best office furniture to their employees! But how do you choose?

By Estelle Josse
Interesting labels and certifications to consider when buying office furniture

First of all, a little background is in order. The purpose of this article is to inform you about the standards and certifications that you may be faced with when choosing your office furniture. This will allow you to make a more informed choice that is in line with your values. Indeed, these standards can serve as a benchmark and a guarantee for the eco-responsibility of products, their quality or the well-being of your employees. 

However, it is important to bear in mind that certifications are not free of charge, and can cost up to €20,000 (or more) for small companies. This is a substantial budget, especially for SMEs that do not always have the means to invest in these labels in the first few years.

Standards are paid for because they pay the standards bodies. Their price tends to be controversial because it is paradoxical and unproductive. Indeed, it does not encourage companies to implement the actions necessary to be certified, which are supposed to be beneficial to consumers, the environment and the company itself.

So, we find it interesting to consider the standards, to know what they certify and mean, but don't forget that they are not free, and therefore not accessible to everyone!

Green certification

Why focus on green certifications when choosing your office furniture

Eco-responsibility has become a trend, hence the birth of green washing. It is becoming a bit too easy to call your product "eco-friendly" or to make up stories about your corporate culture. This is why we believe that standards are a fairly reliable assurance. However, they do not mean that the company excels in terms of its environmental record. As long as you produce and consume, there is always collateral damage, but this can be minimised and that is what we are interested in! (If you're interested in this topic, we suggest you take a look at our article on eco-responsible office furniture).

The 14001 standard

The ISO 14001 standard is probably the best known. It "defines the criteria for an environmental management system and is suitable for certification. It provides a framework that companies or organisations can use to implement an effective environmental management system.

The leet design approach:

14001 is our next goal at leet design!

Our arches are manufactured in France in our workshops in Auvergne. During their design we have studied their life cycle in order to optimise it and to give them the possibility of being reconditioned.

Our materials, of French or European origin, have been carefully chosen for their quality and their capacity to be reused, recycled or composted. 

We have made sure to reduce our impact by limiting our waste during delivery and installation of the phone boxes and by offsetting our greenhouse gas emissions through a reforestation project. 

If you want to know more about our approach, you can download our CSR manifesto on this page

The PEFC / FSC argument, a false friend?

The PEFC label is an argument often put forward to prove the eco-design of products. This label certifies that the wood used comes from sustainably managed forests. This is a very positive point, but it does not reflect a real effort on the part of the company.

The leet design approach:

Of course, the wood used by leet design is PEFC certified, but it is mainly from French forests. 

In addition, the wood of our phone boxes is virtually untreated and therefore does not release any VOCs that could be harmful to the health of your employees.

Quality standards

Why favour furniture with a quality standard

It is natural to want quality furniture for your employees and your offices!

Quality management standards encompass the entire management and production process of an organisation. The implementation of quality management standards offers benefits to companies in all sectors and of all sizes.

ISO International Standards are the most widely used quality management standards in the world.

In our view, the following standards are of most interest:

The 9001 standard

"ISO 9001 is the ultimate global reference for quality management

More than one million companies are certified to ISO 9001. This standard is regularly improved to become more precise and more complete but also more flexible and therefore more accessible.

The leet design approach:

Due to our premium positioning, our quality standards are very high. Several processes have been put in place in our workshop and will soon pass certification to validate our efforts.

Acoustic certifications for phone box manufacturers

Why acoustic certifications are indicative of the quality of an acoustic booth

Not surprisingly, acoustics is the primary argument for selling phone boxes. It is also the one that is a source of dishonesty! Companies whose acoustic performance is not certified tend to measure their level themselves. Naturally, this leads to rather lavish embellishments. There is a definite lack of objectivity, in contrast to the procedure put in place by the certification institutes, which have the acoustic level of phone boxes measured by independent laboratories.

The companies themselves measure the performance of the acoustic panels rather than measuring the overall acoustic performance of the phone box. We do not question the acoustic quality of the panels! On the other hand, using this technique, they avoid taking into account the glass or plexiglass walls which are much less acoustic and which contribute to the reduction of the overall level of insulation.

A -40 dB sound level at a single frequency (e.g. 1000 Hz) will not be representative because the voice is made up of multiple frequencies ranging from low to high. 

There are 2 reliable and, in our opinion, essential acoustic certifications in the world of the acoustic booth.

The ISO 11957 standard

The ISO 11957 standard certifies "the acoustic insulation of the components of the booth". Thus, the acoustics of each element of the phone box can be measured independently and its overall level calculated, taking into account the weakest elements. The measurement is thus much more reliable because it is more objective thanks to the independent laboratory that carries it out.

The leet design approach:

The acoustics of Arches leet design has been certified to -35 dB by the ISO 11957 standard!

The ISO 23351-1 standard

This standard is a bit of an evolution of the previous standard. Very recent, published in 2020, it aims to "facilitate the comparison of furniture and enclosure assemblies with regard to their ability to reduce the level of speech of the occupant speaking within the product". This standard was created as a result of the hype surrounding acoustic booths.

"The method is applicable to complete sets of furniture or enclosures that form a unit serving one or more occupants and that are also used to provide greater privacy of conversation."

The leet design approach:

It is our next goal in terms of certification!

For more information on phone boxes, we advise you to take a look at our article: how to choose your phone box

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