EFEC is a voluntary environmental management system that helps AHFA members develop and maintain strong, proactive environmental programs. It provides a systematic approach for reviewing and improving a company's operations for better environmental performance and improved profitability. Becoming EFEC registered requires a company to analyze the environmental impact of its operations, raw materials and finished products. As a result of that process, companies will experience measurable benefits, including:
- Improved regulatory compliance and better relationships with regulatory agencies
- Better management of resources and raw materials
- Reduced energy and water consumption
- Reduced waste disposal and associated costs
- Improved overall operational performance and efficiency
Our culture has always included being a socially responsible corporate citizen and a commitment to giving back to the communities in which we operate. So our decision to become EFEC registered was the right thing to do. We want to leave the environment a better place for future generations and the EFEC program is one way of doing that.
There are eleven elements to the EFEC program with an emphasis on establishing measurable goals for the purpose of reducing our environmental footprint. Employees at our registered plants initially went through EFEC training programs and characterized their own facility-specific environmental footprint. As part of this process, we developed plans for energy, water and waste reductions. After each facility fully implemented the eleven elements, they had to pass an in-depth audit before being registered.
La-Z-Boy Incorporated currently has a total of eleven locations that are EFEC registered. They are Kincaid, American Drew/Lea, the La-Z-Boy Residential manufacturing plants and Hammary. The La-Z-Boy Residential plants reduced their energy consumption in 2008 by 12 percent, reduced the amount of waste sent to landfills by 2 million pounds and reused or recycled more than 50 million pounds of material. Kincaid has reduced their energy consumption by 18 percent and American Drew/Lea has reduced their electrical energy use by 12 percent between 2006 and 2008.
As an extension of their EFEC Program, the AHFA developed the Sustainable By Design (SBD) Program to help its members demonstrate the industry's commitment to integrating socio-economic policies and environmental practices into manufacturing operations to promote a culture committed to the conservation and stewardship of resources and to the creation of a sustainable environment that balances economic, environmental and social performance factors.
To attain SBD registration, a company is required to look beyond their operations and conduct a rigorous evaluation of its corporate environmental footprint, as well as its global climate impact. For each key area on a lengthy checklist, the company establishes numerical goals and a system for evaluating annual achievement and establishing new goals. The key areas include:
- Environmental Management Systems (i.e., the EFEC program)
- Supply chain management, including assisting suppliers worldwide in the development and implementation of sustainability programs
- Social performance, including human rights, labor aspects, aspects of products and services and impacts on the community
- Energy conservation, water conservation, recycling and solid/hazardous waste minimization
- Use of low VOC/low HAP coatings, renewable fuels, certified lumber, low-emitting UF resins, minimal composite wood formaldehyde levels, no pbde's in foams and fabrics and eliminating lead in leathers
- Greenhouse gas emissions and carbon footprint.
Documentation of the above systems and measures is audited by the SBD Board of Examiners. Annual maintenance audits will be conducted in order to maintain SBD registration. Once registered, the company will be able to include the Sustainable by Design AHFA registered logo in its marketing materials. The company also will be promoted on the AHFA's consumer website in a new section designed to educate consumers about environmentally-friendly companies and products in the home furnishings industry. Both Kincaid and American Drew / Lea achieved SBD registration in March 2009 and La-Z-Boy Residential is currently working towards registration.
We are working diligently to reduce and manage our environmental footprint. We continue to learn, grow and build upon our experiences as we continue our journey forward. We are certainly not at the end of the journey, but our full intent is to be "greener" tomorrow than we are today.