Humanscale Delivers Sustainability Through Design

Design Leader Supports the Environment with Proactive Strategies


Karen Brooking


NEW YORK — Although sustainability has become a buzzword in the contract furniture industry, a commitment to the environment is not always evident in every facet of a product’s development and lifecycle. Humanscale, the premier manufacturer of high-performance seating and ergonomic tools for a more comfortable workplace, demonstrates an ongoing commitment to sustainability by keeping the environment in mind for every product, from inception and design, to manufacturing and distribution, to end-of-life options for its products.

Humanscale abides by a philosophy that good design achieves more with less. Through the design of the simplest, most elegant solutions, Humanscale succeeds in developing products that consume less of the Earth’s limited resources compared to others in the same class. This is achieved through the design of seating and ergonomic tools that weigh less, require fewer parts and manufacturing processes, contain a high percentage of recycled and recyclable content, and are made to last longer than any other products.

Humanscale’s new Diffrient World chair, for instance, weighs just 25 pounds and contains only 80 parts. Other high-end task chairs weigh more than twice as much—and contain roughly triple the number of parts. Humanscale’s environmentally conscious solution was achieved, in part, through a revolutionary design that enables dynamic recline without the use of a mechanism. Replacing traditional spring-tension recline devices, which contain a significant number of parts including a heavy steel spring, the Diffrient World chair leverages nothing more than two components of the chair’s frame, the user’s body weight and the laws of physics to provide full ergonomic back support at all points throughout recline. This one groundbreaking design advancement effectively eliminated several dozen parts and substantially lightened the chair’s weight—achievements which reduce its life cycle environmental impact from material extraction and manufacture to distribution and end-of-life considerations. Fewer parts also translate into fewer things that can break, which is why Humanscale is able to offer the longest and strongest warranty in the industry. In short, Humanscale products are designed and built to be viable long after others end up on the garbage heap.

In addition to the amount of material used in a product, the type of material is critically important as well. Whenever possible, Humanscale uses 100% recycled aluminum as its material of choice, which saves 95% of the energy and 95% in carbon dioxide emissions compared to producing virgin aluminum. And because recyclers are paid a premium for aluminum scrap, the aluminum used in Humanscale products will almost surely be recycled when the time comes. Humanscale also designs its products for easy disassembly to further encourage recycling.

The environment also factors into the distribution of Humanscale products. Whenever feasible, Humanscale office seating ships blanket-wrapped instead of individually boxed. When boxes must be used, Humanscale uses those constructed of 80 – 85% recycled materials and takes strides to create the least amount of waste. For instance, Freedom and Liberty seating is designed to ship in two easy-to-assemble pieces to accommodate smaller boxes, which save material, but also allow more chairs to fit on a truck to reduce emissions and the use of fossil fuels. Similarly, for large orders, monitor arms are shipped 10 to a box to save both packaging and space in delivery trucks. Virtually all Humanscale products can be integral to the achievement of up to six LEED-CI, -NC and -EB credits. In fact, the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), creator of the LEED Green Building Rating System, turned to Humanscale when it sought LEED Platinum Commercial Interiors certification for its new Washington, D.C., headquarters in 2007. To help achieve the Platinum level, USGBC incorporated Humanscale seating, keyboard supports, monitor arms, laptop holders and footrests into their overall design.

All of Humanscale’s efforts to reduce the carbon footprint of its products and operations come naturally to the company, as Founder and CEO Robert King is a staunch supporter of World Wildlife Fund—the largest privately funded conservation organization in the world—and has served on its National Council since 1999.

In addition to manufacturing environmentally conscious products, Humanscale’s annual Faces in the Wild art auction and fundraiser raises money for wildlife protection. In a banner 2008, the event generated a record-high donation of $150,000—including matching donations from Humanscale—for WWF. Over the past nine years, Faces in the Wild has raised approximately $390,000 for WWF and other wildlife organizations.

To learn more about Humanscale’s range of environmentally friendly ergonomic work tools and commitment to sustainability, call 800-400-0625 or visit

About Humanscale

Humanscale is the premier designer and manufacturer of ergonomic products that improve the health and comfort of work life. Achieving more with less, Humanscale’s product designs have been honored with more than 150 prestigious awards since 2007 and featured in various museums such as The Museum of Modern Art.

 For more information on Humanscale and our products, visit



Freedom with Headrest, Side View

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Freedom Saddle Seat, 3/4ths View

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Diffrient World Chair, Side View
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Liberty Task Chair, Side View

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Westin New York King Room
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Westin New York King Room
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Humanscale Logo: JPG
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