The Alabama Wildlife Federation has awarded Steelcase Inc.'s Athens, AL, plant with its Air Conservationist of the Year Award. Steelcase-Athens was selected this year's winner for replacing its solventborne paint system with a powder coating system.

Since it switched to powder coatings, VOC emissions from the paint process have been eliminated, and the facility's overall VOC emissions have been reduced by more than 75%.

"Steelcase is to be commended for the proactive pollution prevention efforts the company continues to undertake," says James Warr, director of the Alabama Department of Environmental Management, the office that nominated the manufacturer for the award.

"As the largest office-furniture manufacturer in the world, we understand the impact a healthy environment can have on the community," says David Rinard, director of environmental compliance for Steelcase. "This award underscored our commitment to set the standard for other companies throughout Alabama and North America in creating the most environmentally advanced manufacturing facilities possible."

Industrial Paint & Powder featured Steelcase's environmental efforts in the story "Manufacturing a Better Environment" in the November 2002 issue. The company's wood-furniture manufacturing facility in Grand Rapid's, MI, earned a silver certificate in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design program for setting a new standard in environmental excellence. It was the first manufacturing facility in the world to achieve certification under the LEED program, which is administered by the U.S. Green Building Council.