Latest News

Regulatory Compliance, Furniture Stability, Flammability, AHFA, Product Safety, Formaldehyde

AHFA 2022 Summit Is Two Events In One

The American Home Furnishings Alliance announces Ann Marie Buerkle, former acting chair of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, will provide a keynote presentation at the 2022 Regulatory and Sustainability Summit August 17-18 at The Conference Center at Guilford Technical Community College in Colfax, N.C.

The two-day event opens with a comprehensive overview of regulatory issues currently impacting the manufacture, import and marketing of residential furnishings in the United States. The second day focuses on emerging environmental and sustainability topics.

“The Alliance is engaged in a multitude of issues throughout the year, and our staff members usually are the only industry representatives at the table with federal or state officials,” explains Bill Perdue, AHFA’s vice president of regulatory affairs. “At the annual Summit, we’re able to pull back the curtain and let the entire industry see what we’re up to. We’re bringing in technical experts on issues like formaldehyde, flammability and furniture tip-over, so executives benefit from the most up-to-date information from the most authoritative sources. Companies get one shot at this all year – one opportunity to make sure their company is prepared for the year ahead. We’ve tried to make it as accessible as possible for the greatest number of companies.”

A complete agenda and registration link are at  Registration is $499 and includes lunch both days and a cocktail reception August 17. AHFA member companies receive a discount, which is detailed on the registration page.

The regulatory agenda opens with a political update focused on STURDY and its chances for passage before the clock runs out on the current legislative session at the end of 2022. STURDY is a bill that directs the CPSC to adopt a mandatory furniture stability rule within a year of the bill’s passage. Chris Andresen, whose firm, Dutko GR, represents both manufacturers and retailers in Washington, will bring attendees the latest on behind-the-scenes wrangling to advance STURDY.

Other sessions on the regulatory agenda focus on updates to the voluntary furniture stability standard, ASTM F2057, that are in process, and the CPSC’s massive “Notice of Proposed Rulemaking,” which would upend the entire case goods industry if adopted.

“Each of these three approaches to a mandatory stability standard is advancing,” says Perdue. “Our effort at this Summit will be to explain how the three differ – including anticipated implementation timelines for each.”

One of the sessions includes a demonstration of new tip tests included in an update to the F2057 voluntary standard that was voted on in June and is expected to be final before the end of 2022.

“The regulatory agenda also includes topics important to upholstery manufacturers,” Perdue notes. “Our colleagues at UL will address the ongoing debate over balancing consumer health concerns with fire safety concerns and why barriers are an increasingly important part of this discussion for upholstery manfuacturers.” Dr. Marilyn Black of UL’s Chemical Insights Research Institute, and Dwayne Sloan, technical director for UL’s Building & Life Safety Technologies Division, will lead this discussion.

In addition, an essential session presented by the American Chemistry Council will provide an overview of rapidly expanding state-level chemical regulations that may impact the way performance fabrics are marketed in the future.

Two sessions on the regulatory program will bring companies clarity on the federal formaldehyde rule, including how the Environmental Protection Agency’s formaldehyde health risk assessment released in April could impact our industry.

Ann Marie Buerkle will close the first day highlighting leadership lessons gleaned from a long and multi-faceted career in public service. She served 13 years as assistant New York State Attorney General, was elected to a term in the U.S. House of Representatives serving Upstate New York, was appointed to the General Assembly of the United Nations and served six years at the CPSC, including the last two-and-a-half years as acting chair of the agency. She is now a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm of Williams and Jensen, where she helps corporations, trade associations and institutional clients address challenges involving legislative and regulatory issues.

The August 18 sustainability program includes the latest on a wide array of topics, from environmental management and responsible sourcing to establishing new environmental social governance (ESG) goals.

The August 18 sustainability agenda opens with a fabric supplier panel that will unpack how leading companies are addressing the potential impact of new state-level chemical regulations on the performance fabric market.

Then, the Business and Institutional Furniture Manufacturers Association will unveil its plans to bring LEVEL® certification to the residential market. LEVEL® is an evaluation and third-party certification system for environmentally-preferable and socially-responsible office furniture. It involves independent audits, visits to manufacturing locations and reviews of program strategies and activities. Summit attendees will be among the first to hear how BIFMA plans to make the certification accessible to residential furniture manufacturers.

Two best practices sessions on August 18 will offer attendees the opportunity to learn from industry leaders, and an overview of AHFA’s updated and expanded Responsible Sourcing Manual will reintroduce this important resource to companies that source overseas.

Attendees requiring overnight accommodations can take advantage of a group rate of $129 a night at the Springhill Suites by Marriott Greensboro Airport. The rate is available until July 24, 2022, or until the block is full. A link to the hotel reservation page also is on the AHFA website.

The Conference Center at GTCC is located at 7908 Leabourne Road, Colfax, N.C., minutes off Interstate-40 and just 5 miles from the Piedmont Triad International Airport. The Summit is held in the Center’s 250-seat, tiered auditorium.