An interpretation of the Alabama state law makes it illegal to operate a vehicle while blindfolded. Not to be outdone, in Zion, IL, residents face penalties if they give lighted cigars to dogs, cats or any other domesticated pets. In Oklahoma, if more than three dogs want to “congregate” on private property, they need a permit signed by the mayor. If you are in Minnesota, you may not cross state lines with a duck atop your head. And in San Francisco, CA, a person classified as “ugly” is prohibited from walking down any street.

There is no excuse for the fact that these laws, and hundreds more like them, are on the books, while laws to protect the environment are slow in coming.

Even so, more than any other sector it seems, the woodworking industry has been very proactive in working to protect our environment. In addition to the efforts by industry associations, a vast number of individual companies already have put into action sustainable initiatives.

Guide to Green Strategies
Inside this issue, online and also in the pages of Custom Woodworking Business magazine, is a special section detailing green strategies used in woodworking facilities.

Included in the “Green Strategies Guide” are stories from both large and small manufacturers, representing various segments of the industry, including: cabinets, residential furniture, POP displays/store fixtures, windows and doors, and even specialty niches like guitar manufacturing. Within these pages, they describe the challenges they faced in going green, how they overcame them and the payback on their investment. They also offer suggestions for energy-saving tips and waste-saving processes which can contribute to a profitable — and sustainable — bottom line.  

Here’s a sampling of their stories:
Crystal Cabinet Works: This high-end cabinet company offers FSC-certifed cabinetry and also is certified under the Kitchen Cabinet Manufacturers Assn.’s Environmental Stewardship Program and the Composite Panel Assn.’s Environmentally Preferable Product Downstream Program.

According to Angela Ewald, Environmental Health and Safety manager, in addition to using environmentally sustainable products, the company has recycled more than 30 tons of paint, cardboard, mixed paper, plastic transport packaging and scrap metal in a year through its aggressive waste-saving strategies. An additional 3,000 tons of wood waste is down-cycled each year for use as animal bedding or as a biofuel energy source.

“We have installed optimizing, computerized equipment in our rough mill and machining areas in order to reduce our wood consumption. We also use wood recovered from our own processes to create unique accessory designs,” she said.

Harden Furniture: Renowned for its fine-crafted residential furniture, the company has been certifying its hardwoods under the Sustainable Forestry Initiative since 2001 and was the first to achieve Silver Exemplary status from the Sustainable Furniture Council. “I like to say we were green before green was cool, but it is true,” said Greg Harden, president and CEO. “A lot of our manufacturing practices were already environmentally friendly, so it was a natural to formalize the commitment and get the credit we deserved.”

Harden Furniture has focused its efforts on reducing waste, recycling and reducing energy consumption. The company reduced its electrical energy use by 1 million kilowatt hours last year. Looking ahead, the company plans to focus its attention on reducing VOCs in the finishing operations, combustion controls on the wood-fired boilers and improved insulation on steam pipes.  

Andersen Windows & Doors: As part of its sustainable initiatives, Andersen purchases from certified sources, including FSC and SFI, whenever possible. The company also holds FSC chain-of-custody certification for several of its manufacturing sites.

“Andersen uses nearly all the wood resource entering its facilities in some beneficial way,” says Susan Roeder, community affairs manager. “The vast majority goes directly into our wood-clad product lines. Shorter and narrower wood pieces are fingerjointed or edge-glued together to form longer or wider sections that are used for non-visual applications, like interior frames. Third, recovered wood is often used for packaging aids in shipping our finished product,” she said.

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