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The Taylor Companies: Green Furniture for Green Buildings

RP Siegel | Thursday January 13th, 2011 | 4 Comments

Have you ever checked the ingredients of your office furniture? Perhaps you’ve been afraid to look. Chances are you wouldn’t find out very much if you tried. Not unless you bought your furniture from a company like Taylor Furniture that takes seriously its commitment to transparency. This legacy company was started in 1816, and by combining traditional practices with state of the art awareness and technology, has found its way to the cutting edge of sustainability. They have received national recognition in Business Week and NPR as well as through awards at the North American Sustainable Enterprise Awards (Institute of Sustainable Development) and Crain’s Cleveland Business Emerald Awards. They were also the first business in Ohio to have their operations Certified Green Plus™ by the Institute of Sustainable Development. Only 31 entities nationally have received this certification and they are the only furniture manufacturer in the lot.

One of their many unique attributes is the Sustainability Facts label. This label is similar to the Nutritional Facts label that is printed on packaged food. There’s nothing else like it in the industry.

You might remember a tag on mattresses and pillows years ago that said “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law”. Those tags (which have now added the words, ‘”except by consumer” to avoid traumatizing young children who accidentally pulled the tags off) were used to indicate whether or not recycled materials were used or not. At the time, mattresses filled with recycled fiber became associated with bedbugs and were therefore undesirable. The government demanded that the now-famous labels be placed on the items to certify that all new materials were used in its construction. How times have changed!

Taylor, which is located in Bedford, Ohio and has a plant in Lynwood, California, has been using Bioflex hybrid foam in its seating since 2007. This part-soy foam replaces 20% of the petroleum based chemicals used in traditional foam. It also does not use ozone depleting Chlorofluorocarbons (CFC) or environmentally harmful blowing agents.

They also use locally sourced lumber, mechanisms, chair bases, springs, foam and webbing, all from within a 500 mile radius.

The particleboard used in Taylor case goods has a minimum of 90% recycled wood content with at least 10% post-consumer and 80% post industrial wood content. This essentially takes scraps from two waste streams and combines them into new products. Additionally the locally sourced particleboard used in Taylor’s California desk factory complies with the nation’s strictest air quality emission rules: California Air Resources Board (CARB) and the South Coast Air Quality Management District (SCAQM).

Taylor uses only premium low VOC finishes for their case goods. The application of the stains, sealer and lacquer topcoat is done by using a high volume low-pressure (HVLP) air-assisted-airless sprayer which reduces overspray thus limiting the amount of VOCs released into the air. As a result, there are lower emissions and a better working environment for their employees.

Other highlights include:

  1. New headquarters and factory are built on a remediated Brownfield site
  2. 90% of waste is diverted away from landfills
  3. 59% improvement in energy efficiency. More retrofits in the works.
  4. Lumber sorting to minimize waste
  5. Reusable blanket wrapping in shipping minimizes packaging materials
  6. In April 2010, Taylor became the first furniture manufacturer to join The Climate Registry.

The company will be hosting a webinar entitled “Creating True Sustainable Value” on February 23rd at 2:00 pm (EST).

This is impressive set of sustainable achievements from a company that frankly, I had never heard of before.

RP Siegel is the co-author of the eco-thriller Vapor TrailsLike airplanes, we all leave behind a vapor trail. And though we can easily see others’, we rarely see our own.

Follow RP Siegel on Twitter.


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  • http://identify.us.com Richard Pollack

    The statement that ‘mattresses filled with recycled fiber became associated with bedbugs and were therefore undesirable’ perpetuates a myth. Generally, bed bugs would not be inside of mattresses. Even if they were, a well-sewn covering would permanently entrap them.

  • http://www.cose.org/blog Tim Kovach

    Great article, RP. The Taylor Companies is a member of our organization (COSE/The Greater Cleveland Partnership), and we have worked closely with them to encourage their efforts and promote their case study to the rest of our member businesses. Taylor has made a remarkable commitment to organizational sustainability throughout the entire business, from using sustainable materials to reducing its waste stream by 90% at the Bedford, OH plant. They have even managed to turn their leather scrap waste stream into a revenue stream by selling it to a company in Quebec.

    Taylor offers a wonderful case study of how a medium-sized business can make a firm commitment to sustainability and energy efficiency. It is possible for smaller enterprises to do this, and Taylor is at the forefront of that effort.

    – Tim Kovach,
    Product Coordinator, Energy Programs at COSE
    http://www.cose.org/blog
    http://www.twitter.com/COSEenergy

  • Chris Carmody

    The Taylor Companies is one of many unsung American businesses in more traditional industries helping Main Street understand that sustainability is another word for competitiveness. For more on Taylor’s efforts, check out http://www.gogreenplus.org.

  • http://decorgirl.net Decor Girl

    Nice article. As my favorite office furniture supplier I have heard about their Green initiatives for a while now. I’m so glad they are getting recognition.

    Taylor is a fabulous company, with better than the typical American values. They take pride in their products and produce items of extremely high quality at a reasonable cost. I am sitting in their Aurora conference/desk chair right now and it is as comfortable today as it was five years ago when I bought it.