Custom Furniture Cuts Costs in LEED Certified Projects

As the peak of summer approaches and outside temperatures climb above 100F at our factory headquarters here in Austin, Texas, we have energy conservation and sustainable business practices on our minds. We’re not alone. It’s fair to say that nearly all our large enterprise customers are investigating ways to make their businesses more environmentally friendly. Many of our clients currently renovating existing buildings or undertaking new construction are also seeking LEED-certification for their real estate development projects.


USGBC LEED Certified



U.S. Green Building Council’s LEED Certifications Can Influence the Selection of Furnishings Throughout a Facility

LEED, which stands for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, has expanded its scope considerably since it was first introduced by the U.S. Green Building Council back in 1993. Now in its third revision, LEED has branched out into nine different rating systems for sustainable green practices across the Architecture Engineering and Construction (AEC) and Facilities Management (FM) sectors. LEED rating systems range from standards for commercial construction, such as LEED for New Construction, LEED Core & Shell, and LEED for Healthcare, to the LEED for Home standards established for residential design and construction. In the third edition, LEED 2009, up to 100 points can be awarded to certify a project is worthy of the LEED designation, with the highly coveted Platinum level requiring at least 80 award points. In complex construction projects, each point can be hard fought to achieve, thus even the selection of technical furniture, such as earth-friendly modular work bench, work table and cabinet designs from Formaspace, can influence the outcome.


Formaspace Engages in Sustainable Business Practices in the Manufacture of All of our Custom Furniture

Formaspace sources all our raw materials for our workbenches and work tables, like steel and specialty hardware, via a local, American-based supply-chain rather than relying on overseas sources. This not only reduces transportation costs but reduces emissions released into the environment, which is also considered in the LEED certification process. We employ careful, efficient use of raw materials at the Formaspace factory. And we employ an extensive recycling program to reuse or re-purpose any unused materials.  For example, any excess steel is recycled, while scrap material from the production line is re-purposed to create custom shipping crates for our workbench and work table technical furniture. Energy conservation and streamlined operational measures play a big part in our sustainable business efforts. We have insulated our factory extensively to reduce our cooling and heating requirements. We replaced inefficient air-compressor driven tools with precision rotary screw units for significant energy savings when fabricating our work bench and work tables. And we use diffusers to achieve 80% natural lighting within the facility for reduced energy consumption.


Formaspace’s Custom Furniture Can Help You Meet LEED Project Challenges

Flexible modular furniture solutions from Formaspace are often specified to help you earn LEED credits in new construction or when renovating an existing building. These modular units, including steel cabinets, industrial tables and industrial workbenches, offer rapid reconfiguration if your space planning needs change. For example, Formaspace modular furniture can be disassembled and re-assembled using basic tools, with essentially zero waste, unlike traditional casework furniture offerings. As we’ll see below, the ability to reconfigure the layout of your floor plans during renovations or even transport modular furniture to a new site without incurring any solid waste disposal can help secure important LEED credits.


Formaspace Workbenches are Commonly Specified by LEED Accredited Professionals

Formaspace is an active member of the U.S. Green Building Council, as are many of our customers. For example, in the healthcare sector, we are supplying J&J Worldwide Services with a large order of laboratory workbench and work table furniture in support of their construction of the Department of Defense’s new Food Safety and Diagnostics Laboratory (FADL) at Fort Sam Houston, in San Antonio, Texas. J&J employs LEED Accredited Professionals within their design and construction teams to promote innovative operational sustainability, reduce usage of scarce resources like water and energy, limit the need for solid waste disposal and improve indoor air/environmental quality.


corner laboratory casework

Fort Sam Houston Laboratory Remodel


Let’s Step Through a Typical LEED Scenario for Sourcing Sustainable Furniture During the Renovation of an Existing Building

As this scenario is for a renovation of a facility that’s already built, an LEED Accredited Professional would reference the LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance rating system. In this case, the applicable LEED credit for purchasing sustainable furniture, like modular cabinets, industrial tables and industrial workbenches, is Materials and Resources (MR) Credit 2.2. This credit is intended to encourage a reduction of adverse air quality and environmental impacts during the operational and maintenance life cycle of the facility. An MR Credit 2.2. can be earned via several alternative criteria, or ‘pathways’, including purchasing furniture that either incorporates high levels of post-consumer or post-industrial recycled material, utilizes significant portions of salvaged materials or is constructed from a supply of rapidly renewable materials. Another pathway for earning this LEED credit is by purchasing furniture that is manufactured and shipped locally. Depending on the type of furniture designs selected, many Formaspace technical furniture offerings may help you qualify for this LEED credit.


How Does the Original Choice of Furniture Affect LEED Certification During Future Renovations?

When retrofitting or renovating an existing building, a LEED Accredited Professional will want to consider the LEED credit implications carefully. Relevant LEED 2009 credits include:

  • MR Credit 3: Sustainable Purchasing—Facility Alterations and Additions
  • MR Credit 8: Solid Waste Management—Durable Goods
  • MR Credit 9: Solid Waste Management—Facility Alterations and Additions

The primary motivation behind this range of credits is to divert potential solid waste debris away from landfills or incinerators during renovation or retrofit. Many traditional furniture systems, such as classic casework cabinets, cannot be moved easily and may require walls and other construction elements to be removed, and thus potentially end up in landfills. Here is where the selection of modular furniture during the original construction phase shines. As the name implies, Formaspace modular furniture, such as industrial workbenches, steel cabinets and industrial tables, can be fully disassembled and moved within your facility as your needs change. LEED Accredited Professionals will want to quantify and document how 100% recyclable modular furniture eliminates the need to dispose of construction/demolition debris into our landfills or incineration facilities.




Integrated Workstations


Are There Additional Opportunities for Accruing LEED Credits When Purchasing Custom Furniture?

Yes. For existing facilities, LEED offers credit for exceptional environmental protection or operational efficiencies. Here are the relevant ‘bonus credits’ for innovation in operations, exemplary performance, or conducting pilot programs found in LEED for Existing Buildings: Operations & Maintenance:

  • IO Credit 1: Innovation in Operations -or- Exemplary Performance -or- Pilot Project
  • IO Credit 3: Documenting Sustainable Building Cost Impacts

There are also entire sets of LEED credits specific to new construction projects. You will want to consult with a LEED Accredited Professional to discuss standard LEED credits as well as LEED bonus points for new construction type projects, including credits for Innovation in Design and LEED-selected categories established for specific geographic regions. Whether you are building a new facility, or retrofitting and renovating an existing facility, Formaspace is your custom fabrication partner who can bring your furniture ideas to life. Whether you are looking for modular furniture, classic casework furniture or you have a new, innovative custom solution in mind, we stand ready to build your furniture at our factory in Austin, Texas. Contact us today!

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Formaspace Provides Custom Workbenches for U.S. Army Food & Diagnostics Lab

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is undertaking one of its largest laboratory construction projects ever at Fort Sam Houston in San Antonio, Texas. As part of a ten year Department of Defense plan for consolidation, construction and renovation, the newly expanded Food Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory (FADL) is scheduled to open in early 2014.


Fort Sam laboratory with fixed casework and upper cabinetry

Largest Food and Diagnostics Lab in the USA


Formaspace is pleased to announce it will supply lab workbenches, laboratory tables and steel laboratory casework for the FADL project.

Initially Formaspace was awarded the ‘phase two’ portion of the FADL lab furniture contract, which includes supplying all the remaining lab workbenches, lab tables, and steel laboratory casework required to bring the new FADL facility on line. Formaspace was then asked by FADL’s prime contractor to provide the balance of laboratory furniture specified in a ‘phase one’ contract which was originally awarded to Hamilton Scientific. This phase is nearing its successful completion. When the final pieces of lab furniture are in place and FADL opens its doors in early 2014, Formaspace will have fabricated and installed the vast majority of the FADL project’s laboratory workbenches, lab tables, and laboratory casework.  The total laboratory furniture portion of the project is approximately $1 million.


corner laboratory casework

Fort Sam Houston Laboratory Remodel


How will Formaspace’s custom laboratory workbenches, tables and casework be used at FADL?

FADL’s full name — the Department of Defense Food Analysis and Diagnostic Laboratory — speaks to its broad mission in support of worldwide health protection and combat readiness capability of our nation’s armed forces. Formaspace laboratory furniture, including lab workbenches, lab tables and lab casework, will be used at FADL to perform a wide range of laboratory testing services, including:

  • Food Safety Testing and Disease Diagnostics

    As the leading DoD laboratory for food safety testing and zoonotic disease monitoring, FADL tests more than 8,500 human, animal and arthropod specimens each year in an effort to track disease outbreaks, including testing for rabies, West Nile virus, brucellosis, leishmaniasis and other public health diseases.

  • Food Microbiology and Chemistry

    FADL provides microbiological, chemical and toxicological tests of the food supply chain to ensure the health of DoD personnel and others. On average about 4,000 food samples are tested in the laboratory each year. FADL works closely with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), sharing results on food borne illnesses so contaminated items can be pulled quickly. FADL also helped develop seafood testing procedures after the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

  • Cholinesterase Reference Laboratory

    FADL provides occupational health surveillance, as well as a chemical reference library to support the safety and security control measures outlined in the DoD Chemical Surety Program. This program is designed to ensure that people and the environment are protected in chemical agent operations.


Who is the prime contractor that awarded Formaspace the DoD FADL contract?

J&J Worldwide Services (J&J) is the prime contractor for construction of the new FADL facilities at Fort Sam Houston. Founded in 1970, J&J has grown to become a leading DoD contractor providing medical facilities operations and construction services, as well as military base operations support, logistics, and operations and maintenance services. J&J asked Formaspace to step in and assist with a ‘phase one’ contract to provide lab workbench furniture, lab tables and lab casework (cabinets) for the new FADL lab facilities. This ‘phase one’ contract had been initially awarded to Hamilton Scientific.

J&J, whose corporate motto for safety and quality is “do every job right the first time,” was very pleased with quality of Formaspace’s product delivery in ‘phase two’, including our quick response time, strong project management and proactive communication skills. J&J subsequently awarded Formaspace the undelivered balance of ‘phase one’ contract to supply the rest of the laboratory furniture for the FADL project, including all lab workbenches, lab tables and the laboratory casework.


Why did J&J select Formaspace to supply designs for the FADL project?

As a manufacturer of all types of technical furniture, Formaspace has the expertise to manage large projects for enterprise customers. These projects, which can range from $100,000 to over $5 million, require a dedicated team experienced in comprehensive statements of work, detailed engineering blueprints as well as the project management experience to deliver your project on time and on budget. In the case of the FADL project, we quickly assembled a core project team to assist J&J’s construction management efforts. In a matter of weeks, we were able to get up to speed on over 5,600 pages of statement of work (SOW) documentation and engineering drawings that detailed the laboratory design requirements for custom steel lab casework, lab workbench layouts, lab tables and more.

J&J was very impressed with Formaspace’s ability to perform under such tight deadlines. According to Mike Jensen, “With Formaspace, you know you are dealing with a vendor you can trust to be honest, hardworking and reliable. The quality of their all American-made lab furniture is outstanding and they meet their delivery promises. We most definitely plan to continue our successful partnership with Formaspace on this project and other J&J projects in the future.”


Epoxy peg board for wet lab

Epoxy Peg Board


Why not contact Formaspace today for your lab table, lab workbench and lab casework needs?

Contact us today with your technical furniture needs. Whether you are building a bio-medical, genetic research, toxicology, chemical, electronics or basic research laboratory, we can build the laboratory workbench, wet labs, lab casework cabinets, lab sinks and ventilation hoods for your facility.

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