The Healthier Hospitals Initiative was started by twelve US health systems with the goal of making healthcare environments safer for patients, guests and caregivers. The initiative is comprised of 6 challenge areas – Engaged Leadership, Healthier Food, Leaner Energy, Safer Chemicals, Smart Purchasing and Less Waste. Participation is completely voluntary – hundreds of hospitals and health systems are enrolled and undertaking one or more of the challenges.

Safer Chemicals is the challenge related to furniture and healthcare interiors. It’s not surprising that more chemicals are used in healthcare than any other industry – many of these chemicals can have a lasting & negative impact on people. The HHI Safer Chemicals challenge encourages users to commit to using greener chemicals to clean and disinfect, eliminate chemicals of concern (mercury, formaldehyde and more) and purchase furniture items that are free from harmful chemicals.

For furniture, it means that items and their components (textiles, foam, etc) are free from added flame retardants, anti-microbials and “chemicals of concern”. Those chemicals include heavy metals, PFC’s, PVC’s and more – a full list can be found on the HHI website at: Many of these chemicals can build up in the body and cause diseases and other health concerns, like asthma.

The effort to reduce or eliminate the use of these chemicals in healthcare settings has been embraced by the interiors industry. Most major furniture suppliers have made efforts to eliminate these harmful chemicals to meet HHI standards. This not only benefits the healthcare industry but can result in a safer manufacturing environment and less toxic waste in landfills.

NBF supports this important initiative – our item descriptions will call out those items that meet HHI standards, or our furniture consultants can help build a package of sustainable, healthier furniture for any facility. Learn more at


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