Cutting the carbon and the cost with furniture asset management

September 2nd, 2014 by TRT Blog

We pride ourselves on being as green as can be and taking an innovative approach to environmental management. Our onsite furniture asset management services are clean, non-toxic and eco-friendly. Revamping furniture, rather than replacing, puts less of a burden on forests – and it even reducing budgets.

Our latest infographic demonstrates the environmental impact of manufacturing new furniture. We investigate how hospitality, government and higher education facilities worldwide can lower their carbon footprints and overall impact on the environment simply by deploying a furniture asset management strategy.

There are approximately 15 steps in the manufacturing process journey. It all starts with cutting down the tree, which emits a whopping 58.3 tons of carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, transporting the tree to a factory for manufacturing expels 3.7 tons of CO2.  From tree to table the overall carbon footprint equates to an astonishing 125.32 tons of carbon dioxide.

To date, our onsite refinishing, reupholstery and remanufacturing services have saved two million trees, reduced 124.08 tons of CO2 per 100 rooms and completed 1.3 million room refinishing projects sustainably. To learn more, see the full infographic here.

If you’d like to learn more about the work we do at The Refinishing Touch, or how we can help reduce costs and carbon emissions through our furniture asset management services, please email us at

The Refinishing Touch_Cut the carbon and the cost infographic

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Safety first: Refinish with caution

July 15th, 2014 by TRT Blog

With any renovation project – whether it be on a large-scale or done at home – safety comes first. Oftentimes, particularly when refinishing furniture on your own, it’s difficult to identify the dangers and utilize the correct materials to minimize accidents. In recent years, whether it be a hotel or a home, dangerous situations have made the news.

For example, a stubborn fire broke out in Oakland hills last year believed to have been caused by rags soaked in chemicals and left in an enclosed basement by one of the occupants living in the home refinishing a piece of furniture. We’re relieved no one was injured in the Oakland hills fire, however the accident should serve as a warning to anyone to all refinishing professionals or those taking on projects individually.

Repairing and restoring old furniture yourself is fun and enjoyable, and a great way to save money. Upcycling existing assets rather than replacing saves on product costs, shipping costs and the cost to the environment while more than doubling the assets lifespan – it is an important route to consider in any renovation.

However caution must be taken when using dangerous chemicals and items shouldn’t be left unattended in the process. Remember that traditional chemicals are flammable so where possible always do the work outside, or ensure there is adequate ventilation as oily rags can spontaneously combust.

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are organic chemicals with a high vapor pressure emitted as gases from certain solids or liquids. VOCs come from common refinishing materials including paint strippers, cleaning supplies, paints and lacquers. Concentrations of many VOCs may be up to ten times higher than outdoors.

As a company that lives and breathes sustainability, we actively encourage people to think green, and refinishing, repairing or remanufacturing items at home, or employing professional service contractors to do so is a fantastic way to be both cost and environmentally efficient.

At The Refinishing Touch, we ensure the safety of our customers and their guests by eliminating toxic and hot chemicals through the use of low –VOC, nonvolatile compounds and safe materials for refinishing projects. All our products are non-toxic, drastically reducing the risk of fire, and environmentally friendly.

To learn more about The Refinishing Touch’s low-VOC lacquers and safe materials, get in touch today at

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A critical look at the university sustainability plan

September 27th, 2013 by TRT Blog

In the past decade, colleges and universities have seen a tremendous change in attitude towards environmental responsibility and sustainability. With each passing year, however, the question remains: Do your sustainability initiatives meet the prerequisites for success?

While many grassroots green campaigns have seen successful results – i.e. passing new or amended policies around recycling or waste reduction – sustainability initiatives need to gain the endorsement of university leadership. Furthermore, resources need to be in place to make the overall vision a reality.

The Refinishing Touch gives tips on how hotels can go green

How does the university define sustainability? What is the responsibility of students, professors, staff and outside vendors to collaborate and engage with policies? These questions must be addressed if a college or university aims to launch a successful and sustainable green initiative.

With a solid framework and understanding in place – it’s time to crunch the numbers. The conversation on sustainability often stems from a desire to save energy and cost, while continuing to grow and upgrade facilities to attract new students.

For example:

Whether the plan is to replace light bulbs or renovate dorm and common areas, a critical look at the budget reveals many opportunities for cost savings. Opting for sustainable furniture asset management services, like those provided by The Refinishing Touch, has been proven to yield positive environmental, financial and legal impacts.

Curious to see examples of university refinishing projects? Browse the list of universities we’ve worked with in the past to refurbish, reupholster, and remanufacture.


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Blog poll: Federal and state governments pave way to greener, more cost-effective future

May 7th, 2013 by TRT Blog

The Refinishing Touch blog poll: Sustainability /green questionsWhen it comes to the implementation of sustainable initiatives, the most productivity is seen when a community, establishment or organization receives support from the government. When an entity has certain standards to uphold and regulations to adhere to, the environmental movement is propelled forward in a more efficient manner. However, environmental policies vary from state to state, town to town, and countrywide.

As a company dedicated to delivering eco-friendly, cost-effective and sustainable furniture asset management services, we have completed renovations within various US courthouses, The White House, military bases, naval barracks and many other government edifices. Because of this, we uphold an avid interest in governmental initiatives and regulations relating to green practices and sustainable development.

In lieu of our thoughts on this issue, we took to our blog page to ask our valued readers, ‘In your opinion, which level of government has been the most responsible in lowering its costs through sustainable initiatives? Here’s what we found:

  • 40% of readers believed that the most effective initiatives lie in the hands of the state government, with the most effective eco-friendly solutions being set forth by politicians and parties on the state level
  • The majority of the vote was split, with another 40% of respondents claiming the federal government has done the best work in terms of achieving  and reinforcing sustainable cost efficiency
  • In a close second place, 20% of readers accredited local government, citing that their own towns and cities have made the most sustainable and cost-saving strides within the past years

Overall, The Refinishing Touch is pleased by progress made in all governmental sectors – local, state and federal – on the road to universal sustainability. Due in large part to the rise of regulations and the increase in environmental awareness, the idea of a green future has become far more feasible than ever before.

For more information on The Refinishing Touch’s services within the government sector, please read a case study documenting our renovation work in The White House. To learn more about what The Refinishing Touch can do for your business, visit our website and request a free quote today.

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Blue seas, green ships: Sustainability becomes a priority for cruise lines

February 22nd, 2013 by TRT Blog

During our 35 years’ of providing on-site, cost-efficient furniture asset management services, we’ve noticed a common trend throughout various industries – the need for improved sustainability. The ongoing push towards green is seen each time The Refinishing Touch delivers its refinishing, re-upholstery and remanufacturing solutions to hotels, government offices, military barracks, college dormitories and more, all across the US and Canada.

The need for environmental preservation has even hit the grand seas, as large cruise lines like Royal Caribbean Cruises have begun implementing waste and carbon reduction techniques into overall corporate missions.

Jamie Sweeting, vice president of Environmental Stewardship at Royal Caribbean, elaborates on such efforts in a recent video interview by Environmental Leader. “We’re doing more in the way of waste management and waste handling,” Sweeting says in the clip. “We can have larger spaces to hold recyclables, for example, and that allows us to maximize the amount of recycling from our ships.”

Along with increasing consumer recycling, the popular international cruise line is also utilizing state-of-the-art technology to reduce and track the amount of energy and carbon used by each passenger. According to Sweeting, studies have shown a traveler on a cruise ship sends less than two pounds of trash to the landfill each year, compared to the over four pounds produced when at home.

Corporations are taking both small and large steps towards achieving minimal waste and carbon production. Whether through intricate implementation of technology, or by simply re-purposing existing furniture to avoid the environmentally-damaging need to buy new, the hospitality industry is showing signs of immense progress when trying to make guests’ stays as green as possible.

For more information on the carbon impact of refinishing furniture versus buying new, please refer to our website here. To hear Sweeting’s full interview, please watch the video below.

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Canadian university commits to sustainable education research

February 19th, 2013 by TRT Blog

As a company that has spent over 35 years working with large organizations to improve the bottom line and decrease carbon emissions through sustainable furniture asset management solutions including refinishing, remanufacturing, and re-upholstering, we understand the long-term commitment required to create a lasting impact on communities and the environment.

In conjunction with implementing sustainable initiatives, we have also seen our customers, which include government agencies, hotels, and colleges and universities, go one step further and commit fiscal and operational resources to the research it takes to make our world a better place. On this same vein, we were thrilled to hear about the Canadian institution, University of Saskatchewan, open up its own environmental research body – The Sustainability Education Research Institute (SERI).

The first of its kind in Canada, SERI is committed to bringing together researchers and community influencers to examine and advance environmental sustainability. In a recent story from The Star Phoenix, University of Saskatchewan vice president of research, Karen Chad said: “SERI will provide a focus for sustainability research, fostering creation of knowledge to inform everything from classroom lessons, actions with community partners and government policy.”

In addition to its dedication to environmental research, SERI will also work to improve sustainable-focus curriculum in elementary, high school and higher education institutions.

With The Refinishing Touch’s recent expansion into Canada, we have a vested interest in the future of the country, its environmental-preservation, and how countries around the world can work together to improve overall sustainability. We hope that similar institutes will continue to be established in a cohesive effort to expand sustainable education.

To learn more about SERI, read the entire news story, and to learn more about The Refinishing Touch and our cost-effective, environmentally-friendly furniture solutions, please visit our website.

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Top of the class: US universities develop carbon emissions modeling software

November 27th, 2012 by TRT Blog

At The Refinishing Touch, part of our mission is to help organizations, including government bodies, hotels and universities, to reduce money spent and the amount of carbon emissions produced when updating or purchasing furniture. So we are always looking for new, innovative ways to inform our clients about the environmental and financial benefits of implementing furniture asset management solutions. US universities develop carbon emissions modeling software

Recently, we read an article highlighting a new software system called ‘Hestia’, developed by Arizona State University and Purdue University, which shows hourly, building-by-building energy-consumption modeling in a clear, high-resolution map. The software is the first of its kind, and is able to collect data from a wide range of sources, including local air pollution reports, traffic counts, and tax assessor parcel information. By combining the large amounts of data with the sophisticated 3D modeling, users are able to view carbon emissions as far down as individual buildings and street segments.

While the software is currently only fully implemented in Indianapolis, and partially implemented in Los Angeles and Phoenix, the program provides a promising solution, not only for private organizations looking to invest in sustainable initiatives and track the benefits, but for public sector organizations looking to better enact sustainable public policy in different regions across the country and world.

As a company that saves our clients an average of 90 percent in carbon emissions and 80 percent in budget costs when compared to buying new furniture, we can only imagine the benefits this software will bring to organizations looking to implement sustainable solutions and gain significant ROI. By being able to see, and compare, how one building’s carbon emissions stack up against another, the opportunities are limitless to researching the most positive sustainable initiatives based on location, weather conditions, building specifications and more.

To learn more about this new software, read the entire story here. And to learn more about The Refinishing Touch’s furniture asset management services, visit our website or request a free quote to find out how our services can benefit your organization.


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Sustainability and tourism interconnected at Rio+20 Earth Summit 2012

July 10th, 2012 by TRT Blog

Countries from around the world gathered at the Rio+20 Earth Summit 2012As a sustainable furniture asset management company with a strong focus in the hospitality, government and higher education industries, we’ve been reading and hearing a lot about the three pillars of sustainability and how to properly encourage and achieve sustainable development.

The three pillars of sustainability are social, environmental and economic – and many sustainability experts believe that all three pillars must be developed and strengthened simultaneously, as a whole, to combat the sustainability problem successfully.

The most recent Rio+20 Earth Summit, held June 20-22 in Rio de Janeiro, focused on two main themes: “a green economy in the context of poverty eradication and sustainable development, and an institutional framework for sustainable development.” One of the Summit’s side events, ‘Tourism for a Sustainable Future’, discussed these themes in great detail and concluded that tourism can be a key contributor to the three pillars.

Maurice Strong, former Earth Summit Secretary-General, said: “[Tourism] has a real interest in protecting the environment and a huge potential for the green economy as its assets are the ones we need to preserve and enhance.”

This sentiment resonates with The Refinishing Touch team, as our primary goals focus around reducing tree harvesting, reducing landfill waste, and preserving our natural resources. Having worked with some of the world’s largest hotel brands, including Starwood, Hilton, and Marriott, we understand how tourism can not only promote local jobs and economic growth, but also encourage greater care and appreciation for local environments and natural resources.

We hope that tourism, as travelers become more environmentally-conscious, will continue to be a driving force in increased sustainable development and awareness.

For more information on the Rio+20 Earth Summit, go here. For more information on how furniture asset management can help your organization save money and the environment, visit our website at

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University of Washington brings student together for Environmental Innovation Challenge

April 6th, 2012 by TRT Blog

This past week on March 29, the fourth annual University of Washington Environmental Innovation Challenge was held at the competitions namesake. The Environmental Innovation Challenge is a friendly competition that calls on student teams from across the entire Northwest to explore an environmental problem, design and develop a solution, produce a working prototype, and present a business model and market opportunity to a panel of judges. This year’s judging panel was comprised of local clean-tech experts, entrepreneurs and investors.

In order to tackle the emerging and growing green economy, student teams pitched a wide range of innovative, ground-breaking ideas that have the potential to help entire communities and possibly the world. The Refinishing Touch reports on the University of Washington's Environmental Innovation Challenge

The winning idea came from a University of Washington team named Green Innovative Safety Technologies. Their vision would eliminate the need for heavy, concrete highway jersey barriers. Instead, through their model, discarded ground-up tires from landfills (according to the team one tire, per person, per year is discarded in the US) would be cased into lane separation devices. According to the team, it would cost less per mile and emit less carbon emissions than concrete. The team took home $10,000 for their idea.

Other teams presented prototypes and business plans for sustainable, temporary housing after natural disasters, urban greenhouses, a non-stick cookware alternative to Teflon, and more.

As a company that works closely with universities on projects that increase overall campus sustainability, it’s great to see one university’s efforts to get students involved in green initiatives as well. In our eyes, all of the student teams who competed at the Environmental Innovation Challenge are winners.

For more information on the event or to learn how to sign up for next year’s competition, go here. And to learn more about how your university can decrease its environmental impact and carbon footprint, visit our website at

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