Throughout 40 years of partnering with University Housing, The Refinishing Touch has led ongoing discussions of how to best reuse and optimize existing furniture assets in place of buying new. This spans the breadth of our University Housing clients and projects.
Furniture asset management comprises refinishing, reupholstering, and remanufacturing. Universities have a substantial investment in furniture assets: furniture asset management best practices ensure that this existing investment is protected while delivering pieces that are high quality, aesthetically pleasing, and in line with University Housing standards. This benefits the individuals and communities living on campus. It also is time- and cost-efficient because it does not require furniture to be removed, transported, or stored offsite – a key consideration in busy University Housing facilities. This onsite, zero-transport approach also has the lowest environmental impact.
From Tree to Furniture
The environmental impact of furniture creation is about carbon dioxide and energy consumption, coupled with the avoidable waste of existing resources and the unnecessary use of natural resources.
It is challenging to manufacture anything without creating surplus carbon dioxide created during the steps of manufacturing new furniture. Even before furniture gets to a supplier or storage warehouse, carbon dioxide is created. Just cutting down the trees to create 100 rooms of furniture creates 58.3 tons of carbon dioxide. Those trees then need to be transported to a factory to be made into desks, tables, and chairs (2.7 tons of carbon dioxide); sectioned (4.758 tons); and cut to specification (4.758 tons). Assembling and finishing; packaging furniture into boxes; transporting it to a warehouse; and delivering it to a client only add to the detrimental effect.
Thus, the total amount of carbon dioxide created to manufacture new furniture for 100 rooms is estimated to be in excess of 125 tons. In comparison, refinishing, reupholstering, or remanufacturing existing pieces creates only about 1.24 tons of the gas – a reduction of more than 124 tons, or 99 percent.
However, it’s not just the environmental impact. There’s a fiscal responsibility involved, to the department, to the university, and to the student. Furniture asset management consistently demonstrates a savings of 70 to 80 percent of estimated budget spent when compared to the cost of replacement. For example, one project The Refinishing Touch completed at Georgetown University, saved $973,876, or 83 percent of its budget, by utilizing furniture asset management strategies in place of buying new for just one furniture project.
Onsite furniture asset management also brings compounded savings. You can easily scale a project planned to refinish, reupholster, or remanufacture the furniture in one building to cover several buildings. And refurbishing in three buildings will come at the same price as replacing furniture in one.
We all know that landfills cannot hold all the waste we create. We know that carbon dioxide overload has detrimental effects to the planet. We also recognize that the best practice furniture asset management produces high-quality, cost-efficient, eco-friendly, and beautiful results.
To Universities not yet utilizing logical, practical, and sustainable furniture asset management best practices: What are you waiting for?