One of the most consistent pieces of feedback we have gotten from students over the years is that the current furniture on the main floor of SUB is dated, worn, and uncomfortable. We’ve been asking you to test some new furniture options in the main floor common area to ensure that the new pieces we select will meet your needs. We want the SUB common area to continue to be a space that you will use and love.

In choosing these new pieces, we face the following challenges:

  • Finding pieces that meet a variety of student needs including studying, dining, lounging, and socializing.
  • Finding pieces that meet the UASU’s high standards for quality including durability, comfort, maintenance, and most importantly sustainability.

How can furniture be sustainable? Here are 6 ways:


Furniture that stands the test of time is inherently sustainable. It requires replacement less often and therefore creates less waste. In SUB, we are still using mid-century modern wood furniture that was purchased in 1973. While we have refinished the wood and reupholstered the cushions over the years, the furniture itself is sturdy and was built with such quality that it has lasted 48 years.


Furniture that is built in a modular fashion, meaning that the furniture breaks down into smaller pieces and parts, is more sustainable than furniture that is constructed as one solid entity. Modular furniture can be repaired as needed and put back into use, as opposed to having to throw out the whole piece and replacing it. Several of the pieces of furniture we are testing have removable legs, backs, or seats, which will extend the lifespan of these products compared to other furniture.


Furniture that is made from sustainable materials will have less of a negative impact on the environment than furniture that is not. Aluminum for example, is one of the most sustainable materials available for furniture construction as it is infinitely recyclable, is one of the most widely recycled materials, and saves 95% of the cost of creating new aluminum. Other highly sustainable furniture materials include: steel, wood, bamboo, wool and linen.


Furniture and fabric coverings that are created using non-toxic adhesives and finishes are more sustainable to the environment and healthier for the user who interacts with them. Furniture materials that contain VOCs (volatile organic compounds) go through a process called off-gassing, where these compounds are released into the air for as much as a year after the furniture is constructed. Furniture made with plywood or particle board are especially notorious for off-gassing as they contain formaldehyde, a VOC that is highly irritating to the eyes and respiratory system and is also a known carcinogen.


Partnering with furniture manufacturers who have improved their sustainability practices contributes to improved overall sustainability. As a whole, the furniture industry is working hard to minimize energy and waste and utilize clean energy when possible. Some textile manufacturers have significantly reduced the amount of water they utilize in the dyeing and rinsing processes for their fabrics,while others have switched to more sustainable materials such as silicone in place of vinyl. Some are also focused on carbon neutrality in their manufacturing and shipping processes!


Furniture that can be disassembled at the end of its life and recycled is far more sustainable than furniture that is thrown away in a landfill. This process goes back to the construction and materiality of the piece of furniture and shows why these qualities not only lengthen the lifespan of the furniture, but also contribute to its sustainability at the end of its usefulness.

These are the criteria we’ve used to evaluate and select new furniture options for the SUB common area that are sustainable and can be enjoyed for years to come. Now we need your help to evaluate them! We have several new furniture pieces for you to test near the SUBstage in different sizes, shapes, and materials. Next time you're in SUB, take these new pieces for a spin and claim some Perks points. You'll get a follow up survey for additional points where you can give us feedback on what you tested. The more feedback we receive, the more we can be sure that we are meeting your needs when selecting furniture for future renovations.