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02/23/2012

Four Keys to Selecting Proper Furnishings

By Max Holland

 
The keys to selecting proper facility management furnishings.

Selecting furnishings for educational environments can be challenging. It’s not uncommon for a school’s union lounge to be overflowing with students draped across chairs, couches and floors while a university official tours prospective students, and his or her parents, within same the space.

The furnishings in libraries, offices, conference rooms and other public spaces must meet the needs and aesthetics of students, faculty and visitors, while withstanding excessive use — a tall order for any piece of furniture.

When evaluating furnishings, facility managers should concentrate on four areas:

  • Durability and ease of maintenance
  • Safety and healthy-atmosphere benefits
  • Quietness and comfort
  • Contribution towards green initiatives and fit within the assigned budget

Durability and ease of maintenance

In some educational environments, durability and maintenance are two of the most important features. Continual wear and tear from students, especially to seating, makes it increasingly important for facility managers to consider the following:

  • ANSI/BIFMA level certification;
  • A 10-year warranty on all products; and
  • Heavy duty-use seating — tested to 350 pounds — for lounge and high-use areas

Today, educational settings need products that can withstand several years of repeated use. Of these three areas, the most important is understanding the product’s American National Standards Institute/Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturer’s Association (ANSI/BIFMA) level certification.

This program provides facility managers with peace of mind about a product’s quality and ability to perform over several years. For example, it is not uncommon for a seating piece to undergo 100,000 cycles of weight testing to meet the manufacturer’s standard for sturdiness and quality of design.

Safe and healthy atmosphere

A second key area of focus is creating a safe and healthy environment, and furnishings can play a large role. In places where furniture is touched daily by hundreds of people, low maintenance and easy cleaning are key requirements. The following features give facility managers the ability to quickly and safely clean furnishings and the surrounding environment effectively:

  • Laminate arm caps, also resistant to wear and tear, make it easy to wipe away dirt and germs with a bleach solution;
  • Stain or moisture-resistant, anti-microbial or bleach-cleanable fabrics;
  • Tall steel or metal legs that withstand abuse and allow for easy vacuuming underneath the piece;
  • An open space on or near the back to quickly wipe away dirt and crumbs; and
  • Closeable storage options to eliminate dust accumulation.

Quiet and comfortable

It may seem like a given that furnishings for education environments should be quiet and comfortable, but surprisingly it can be a forgotten feature when making evaluations. Furniture that is quiet and comfortable means that seats do not make noise when users sit down or get up, drawers and doors don’t squeak or rattle, and users can easily adjust worktops and/or chairs to create a more ergonomic fit. Depending on the requirements of the space, wide arms are gaining popularity in education settings because they offer a convenient space to sit books or laptops.

Interior furnishing selections play a critical role in creating effective-learning environments. Prior to purchase, it is recommended that an organization gauge the comfort and noise level of products by either seeing or experiencing them firsthand.

Green initiatives and budget

Many organizations with new construction or remodeling projects are identifying ways to make buildings more sustainable. To ensure different areas of sustainability are addressed during construction, the most common standard to follow is the U.S. Green Building Council’s (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED).

The USGBC recently introduced LEED Pilot Credit 43 – Certified Products, which validates the use of third-party products that include transparent documentation about the materials, ingredients, sustainable attributes and life cycle. The credit aims to help facilities increase the use of products that incorporate a holistic approach to sustainability through materials, economic impact and corporate social responsibility. For furniture, some of the most recognized organizations evaluating products’ sustainability include Scientific Certification Systems (SCS), Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) and ANSI/BIFMA. A complete list of approved certifications and labels is available on the USGBC website, in the LEED Pilot Credit Library, www.usgbc.org.

Because manufacturers use different certification systems it can become confusing to review product attributes using an apples-to-apples comparison. To make it easier, www.ecoScorecard.com brings together all the necessary data and provides the documentation designers and facility managers need to verify if a product meets LEED guidelines.

Conclusion

Through careful analyzing and specifying of products, facility managers increase the likelihood of the final products meeting all facility needs and budget goals. Educational environments must cater to a variety of audiences and by examining products from different perspectives, chances are greater that the solution will meet and exceed all expectations.

Max Holland is Director of Vertical Markets, Kimball Office

 

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When choosing a metal-clad building for your next construction project, consider Morton Buildings, Inc., and their designBUILD team, we’ll make your dream a reality.

Visit our website today to learn about the design flexibility of a Morton building and the endless possibilities of partnering with our designBUILD team.

Wood construction is both cost and energy efficient. Check out Morton Buildings and our designBUILD team online today to discover all the benefits of post-frame construction.

We Can Help You Reduce Energy by 30%

Our mission is to help our customers manage their buildings' energy costs, improve reliability, and enhance performance while having a positive impact on the environment.
CLICK HERE to find out how.


Mitsubishi Electric’s H2i R2-Series heat pumps provide 100% heating capacity down to 0° F and simultaneous heating and cooling down to -4° F delivering year-round comfort, regardless of climate zone.

 
04/23/2014

A key part to curbing emissions is working with local and city officials, tenants, and other groups to help make entire communities more sustainable. BOMA International shares the following strategies for greening your facility and community.

04/21/2014

Lighting fixes target the bottom line.

04/16/2014

The U.S. Army plans to start development of a solar array that will provide about 25% of the annual installation electricity requirement of Fort Huachuca, Arizona.

04/15/2014

The EPA's annual greenhouse gas emissions report is now available.

04/14/2014

Are you what some would call a “climate-change denier”? If so, you'll want to read this.

04/10/2014
Los Angeles has remained the top city for ENERGY STAR certified building since 2008, while Washington, D.C. continues to hold onto second place for the fifth consecutive year, according to a new list released by the EPA.
04/09/2014
Green construction has grown massively over a short period of time.
04/07/2014
Field demonstrations of newly proven energy-efficient technologies are yielding valuable results for the U.S. Navy, helping it meet energy goals.
04/03/2014
Building owners in Chicago now have more options when it comes to getting their building energy data verified.
04/01/2014
According to a new report from Eaton, such outages are up 15% in 2013 over 2012 and over half of those surveyed believe that downtime could have been prevented.
03/31/2014
The newly revised ANSI/ASHRAE Standard 105-2014, Standard Methods of Determining, Expressing, and Comparing Building Energy Performance and Greenhouse Gas Emissions, aims to provide a consistent method of measuring, expressing, and comparing the energy performance of buildings.
03/27/2014
Facility managers face an every expanding array of sustainability choices and challenges, but for the next generation of FMs, green practices could be second nature as sustainability literacy enters the K-12 school system.
03/25/2014
While the economic recession explains the decline in sales in 2008 and 2009, it is much less clear why sales have continued to fall.
03/24/2014
University of Washington (UW) scientists have built the thinnest known LED that can be used as a source of light energy in electronics.
03/21/2014
Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant signed Senate Bill 2378 into law, effectively enacting the state’s first building code.
03/19/2014
In an attempt to improve building energy performance, the DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released a web-based tool called the Technology Performance Exchange, or TPEx.
03/18/2014
Could green building practices pose unanticipated life-safety hazards?
03/13/2014
Worried about workplace violence in your facility? Researchers have discovered that “mindfully observing” high-risk employees can avert danger and workplace violence.
03/11/2014
Through the DOE’s Building Energy Codes Program, every dollar the DOE has spent on building energy codes over the past two decades has resulted in $400 in energy cost savings.
03/07/2014
It is possible to harvest energy from Earth's thermal infrared emission into outer space, according to new research from the Harvard School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.
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