Based out of Huntingburg, IN, with multiple showrooms around the country, furniture manufacturer OFS sets the bar high for sustainable production, protecting the environment and setting an example for other companies.
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Not only has OFS earned WELL Platinum certification for its home office, but it takes its environmentally-conscious stance so seriously that it named its sustainability program. Called Common Grounds, in honor of the idea that finding common ground is the basis for meaningful change, the program focuses on greening every step of the business cycle.
The process began in the 1950s with the foresight of OFS’ leaders at the time, Phyllis and Bob Menke. Upon noticing the effects of poor forest management in southern Indiana, they established the Indiana Nature Conservancy. This allowed them to acquire land damaged by over-foresting practices. Replanting and maintenance of the forest led to the current 7,100 acres held and monitored by OFS and the Menke family. The land is part of the American Tree Farm program and is Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified.
Jarod Brames, Director of Sustainability for OFS says, “By prioritizing sustainability initiatives, we’re investing in our future. Our company’s leadership has always taken responsibility for the planet, dating all the way back to our inception — well before many others started this focus. It’s something we continue to take very seriously.”
OFS is also partnered with One Tree Planted, a nonprofit organization dedicated to global reforestation. Through this association, OFS plants 60,000 trees annually, enough to counterbalance the company’s annual emissions over the lifespan of the trees. The trees are planted in areas that are actively managed, which helps ensure increased survival rates and lost-tree replacements in a responsible way.
The company also places an earth-friendly focus on packaging, using biodegradable foam that keeps furniture safe during shipping, yet reduces to 5% of its size once the unpacking is complete. To keep factory waste low, all excess wood chips are saved and stored to use for heat during the winter months. To further control the sustainable aspects of production and delivery, the OFS trucking company called Styline Logistics delivers all OFS furniture products. The company reports, “It has been part of the EPA’s Smartway program for over 17 years and utilizes bio-diesel in its operations.”
While OFS puts a notable emphasis on green production, it also provides a healthy work environment for employees with a central cafe that serves healthy food and a gathering space to build relationships.
Building on the belief that green products are the best option for consumers and the planet, OFS continues to meet the increasingly higher expectations within the industry. They achieve this by producing furniture with low emissions and relying on certified natural materials such as wood with FSC CoC certification, and BIFMA-level certified products, which is an industry-standard.
“At OFS, we’ve accomplished a lot when it comes to sustainability, but we also realize there’s so much more to do. Climate change is presenting some urgent challenges, and the pandemic has reinforced the importance of human health and well-being, especially in the built environment. As we look to the future, we’re aligning our efforts with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals, beginning with Human Health and Well-Being, Responsible Consumption and Production, and Life on Land. These are areas where we can use our experience and unique position as a family-owned company to make the largest impact for our customers, colleagues and communities,” Brames says.
For transparency in regards to chemicals in its products, OFS provides Health Product Declarations for the top dozen products in its lineup. However, it admits they are early in the game and promises to continue on its quest to remove harmful chemicals as it becomes aware of them. In addition to chemical content, the team emphasizes long-lasting product design. It works towards ergonomic and durable furniture options that will be around for a long time.
Brames explains, “Our products are crafted to last. The quality materials we use allow our furniture to withstand years and years of use, while still looking and performing at its best. This keeps products out of landfills and reduces the amount of wood and other materials used.”
In addition to the WELL-certified buildings, multiple showrooms have earned LEED certification. An event center on-site, called Cool Springs, includes 600-acres dedicated to educating visitors about forest management, the importance of biodiversity and the lifecycle of OFS products, from forest to furniture.
“The act of planting a tree is powerful and symbolic. Trees grow slowly, so we like to think of it as a long-term investment in our future. We invite everyone who tours our Cool Springs retreat and hardwood forest to plant a tree and take part in helping our planet,” Brames finished.
Images via OFS