HDR Pledges Preference for Flame Retardant-Free Furniture

(December 11, 2014) – Doug Wignall, president of HDR's architecture company, has signed a pledge on behalf of HDR, giving preference to upholstered furniture products free of chemical flame retardants (FRs). The Center for Environmental Health (CEH) Purchaser's Pledge commits signers to increase purchasing and specification of cost-competitive furniture products that meet appropriate flammability standards without the use of FRs, and communicate preference for fire-safe FR-free products with all vendors and suppliers.

Pledge signers include HDR, Facebook, Kaiser Permanente, Staples, Perkins+Will, Autodesk, and other leading companies and organizations that collectively purchase more than $520 million of furniture annually.

"At HDR, we are committed to reducing our own environmental impacts both through responsible practices for our clients and the communities they serve, as well as for ourselves as employee owners," said Jean Hansen, Sustainable Interiors Manager at HDR. "We are excited about this pledge to purchase flame retardant free upholstered furniture, as our latest effort for safer, healthier environments."

The CEH Purchaser's Pledge aligns with California's new flammability standard, Test Bulletin (TB) 117-2013, which creates an option for consumers to meet fire safety regulations for upholstered furniture and baby products without the use of potentially toxic FRs. The former regulation, TB 117, has been the de facto standard for all of North America, giving the new amendment international significance as it is adopted beyond California.

TB 117-2013 is an amendment to TB 117, passed 40 years ago, which mandated the use of chemical FRs in upholstered furniture to meet flammability standards. However, these FRs were found to offer no measurable fire safety benefits and are linked to significant health issues, including elevated rates of cancer, reproductive harm, suppressed immune systems, and neurodevelopmental problems. They also can contaminate soil and water sources, which then contaminate the food supply. There is no known remediation strategy for reversing the effect of these chemicals once they've entered the environment or our bodies.

HDR and the CEH have partnered to advocate responsible and fire-safe furniture choices. "Businesses who want safer furniture welcome the movement to eliminate flame retardant chemicals by these responsible companies," said Judy Levin of CEH. "Architecture and design firms, government purchasers, healthcare organizations and other businesses know that buying flame retardant-free furniture is a smart business decision. The mood of the market is clear: it's time for all furniture companies to end their use of toxic flame retardant chemicals."