Solid Wood Sustainability

Green infrastructure and Alternative Energy are amongst a few of earth’s sustainability issues. As of late, many University’s and collaborative non-profits have taken it upon themselves to introduce anti-deforestation efforts, or otherwise classified as green forestry initiatives. For example, the University of Vermont’s School of Environment and Natural Resources is revolutionizing its forestry program through the implementation of a Green Forestry Initiative. But who better to tend to the needs of our earth than the companies using its resources? Harden Furniture is one such example of a company that exercises sustainability through green forestry practices.

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Green Forestry can simply be categorized into three different sectors:

– Sustainable Design
– Land Ethics
– Real-World Learning

In Harden’s case, they already understand that sustainability is a major issue; they’ve already outlined annual carbon emission output and land usage. In a statement made on the website: “It is our goal to reduce our total carbon emissions by 10% annually…” – They go on to state that they hit their goals in 2008, but fell short in 09. Although, they were still able to reduce their annual energy consumption in 2009 with the following details:

Electrical Energy Consumption -16.8%

Natural Gas – 10.7%

They go on to note that carbon emissions related to electric output is much greater in comparison to natural gas, further promoting their sustainability efforts. Congruently, all of their facilities are heated by wood waste, and they rarely use fossil fuels. And to top it off, most of the carbon that would otherwise be sent into the atmosphere (if it weren’t for natural solid wood) is trapped inside each individual sofa or chair until decay.

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The SFC (Sustainable Furnishings Council) awarded Harden Furniture with Silver Exemplary Status. In other words, the numbers below demonstrate a low (per annum) carbon emission for the materials listed.

To qualify for such status, Harden had to meet the following:

– 15 to 25 percent of wood products must be FSC-Certified
– 1 to 25 percent of products other than wood are made from recycled or bio-based materials
– Completion of “Carbon Footprint Report,” reviewing detailed analysis of energy output in operations
– Positive impact on supply chain improvements as a result of efforts Harden scored additional points for sourcing and shipping its products within a 500-mile radius, which reduces carbon emissions; paying 100% of its employees a living wage; and creating The Living Canopy Program, a New York state-based educational initiative which also generates funds for land and water restoration efforts.

Once again, this demonstrates Harden’s strict understanding of sustainability. But what is Harden doing about conserving our forests natural resources? In order to full understand what it takes to preserver a piece of land (or forest in this case) the user must also understand the importance of maintaining its overall health.  Harden exemplifies this indirectly in the numbers listed above, but also in their latest certification, otherwise known as SFI or Sustainable Forestry Initiative. The SFI is a program that outlines forestry and preservation practices designed to ensure that future generations of Americans will have the same number of abundant natural resources. It’s also listed among some of the top sustainable forestry initiatives in the world, covering nearly 180 million acres of forestland throughout North America. By achieving such certification, Harden has demonstrated real-world learning, along with their ability to address land ethics.

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Sustainable design efforts are still in place for most accessories and upholsteries, however Harden has already distributed the world’s first bio-based foam preserve. The product is made by Hickory Springs Manufacturing Company, and is comprised of BiOH polyols. In other words, the foam is made with natural soy rather than petroleum. Additionally, the product has already become standard in all of Harden’s upholstery lines, including solid wood bedroom furniture, office, living room and more.

Although Harden is a wood company, they do an excellent job at addressing some of today’s greatest green issues, including preservation, recycling and deforestation. With most schools and non-profits already on board, hopefully more companies will continue to follow in Harden’s footsteps.

Erik Braunitzer is a representative of Harden Furniture, a manufacturer of solid wood furniture, including solid wood storage.