Student Housing Furniture Can Be Durable, Sustainable and “Fixable”

by Katie Sloan

The language of the furniture business can be complicated and hard to understand. Here’s a guide.

In the green and sustainable furniture world, terms can be confusing and mistakenly interchanged. Often-heard topics continue to enter the dialog surrounding sustainable furniture, so at FOB, we’ve been monitoring and researching these concepts very carefully to ensure our clients understand the complex language that describes manufacturing and installation practices. Here’s our guide to understanding the somewhat foreign language of green furniture:

1) Eco-friendly: low VOCs
VOC stands for low volatile organic compound. VOC furniture makes good sense for students’ health, the environment and, in the long run, your business’ bottom line. This type of furniture can also be called “low-toxicity” since the off-gas of the furniture chemicals is lower than typical furniture with high VOC finishes. It’s best to consider your options when choosing low VOC furniture since water-based finishes are often not durable, and a rich finish cannot usually be attained this way.

2) Sustainable bamboo
While bamboo is in a family of grasses, not wood, it’s worth considering for many reasons. It’s fast-growing, inexpensive and many times used as a veneer. Most bamboo originates from China and is grown with few or no pesticides. Also, using bamboo in furnishings or building materials can give architects and builders LEED points. We’ve researched bamboo for many applications–from flooring to doors and furniture. It can give a modern touch to urban or contemporary décor, which many students prefer.

3) Recyclable and/or “disassemblable” furnishings
Any quality furniture should of course be easy to repair, with sections that can be replaced if needed. For instance, we’ve built solid furniture with tops that can be replaced easily after years of wear. This saves on cost and on moving furniture in and out of students’ apartments en masse. This tactic is also environmentally friendly. It prevents pitching otherwise sound furniture into landfills. We’ve found that recycling furniture through donations is often difficult for different reasons, such as logistics for moving and storing the furniture for donations.

These are just a few highlights detailing how to be more sustainable and green when sourcing and maintaining student housing furniture. Ideally, it’s best to be extremely thoughtful and strategic at the beginning of your furniture design and fulfillment process.

If you are a customer, ask your furniture vendor lots of questions. The optimal company should be knowledgeable and resourceful to ensure your property and its furnishings make the most environmentally friendly and well-designed space possible that will also accommodate your budget.

Brian Hunt is CEO of FOB, an international student housing and apartment furniture company headquartered in Fort Mill, S.C.,

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