HIGH POINT, N.C. – Gat Creek, a West Virginia-based producer of hand-crafted, solid wood furniture and Sustainable Furnishings Council Silver Exemplary Member, received the 2012 Sage Award for environmental excellence today.
The Sage Awards were launched in 2008 by the American Home Furnishings Alliance (AHFA) to seek out and spotlight environmental innovators from whom others in the home furnishings and bedding industries can learn. The competition is open to retail, manufacturing and supplier companies in both the furniture and bedding industries.
Gat Creek was singled out for the 2012 honor for approaching furniture manufacturing in a holistic manner – taking pride not only in what they make, but how they make it. The company actively supports the responsible management of forests and sources all of its raw materials and production locally.
In 2008, Gat Creek received its FSC Chain of Custody Certification, and it is continually working to certify additional products. The company closely monitors energy consumption and is continually upgrading lighting, motors and air compressors to the most efficient equipment available. In 2009, the company converted all of its heat to a renewable biomass boiler system using off-cut lumber and sawdust as its only fuel.
Gat Creek formally tracks 100 percent of its waste streams, and it was recognized as a Top Environmental Steward by the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection for reductions in hazardous wastes. The company also developed an innovative storm water management system that has proven so effective it is exempt from annual state monitoring.
As the largest private employer in the county, Gat Creek provides a safe, environmentally sound workplace for its employees. The company also is a leader within its community, contributing generously to educational and youth activities, community organizations and charities.
President Gat Caperton actively promotes sustainable business practices within the home furnishings industry. He served as a founding Board member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council and the company is one of only seven manufacturers to have earned that organization’s Silver Exemplary status.
“From product design through all aspects of production, Gat Creek is an exemplary example of a sustainably run organization,” commented AHFA’s Bill Perdue in presenting the award.
The Sage Awards Breakfast was held Sunday, October 14, at the High Point Furniture Market in High Point, N.C.
One Sage Award honorable mention was also awarded at the event. It went to Ethan Allen Inc. Ethan Allen formalized its environmental management system in 1999, establishing goals for energy reduction, water conservation, reduced waste and increased recycling. The system has been implemented in all five of its domestic manufacturing facilities, where 70 percent of the company’s products are produced. This program requires ongoing training, goal-setting and auditing, and it keeps each facility – as well as the corporation as a whole – on a path of continual improvement.
Beyond its environmental management system, Ethan Allen is an industry leader in working with suppliers to develop water-based finishes and reduce chemicals in packaging and foam. It insists that its lumber suppliers practice scientifically sound forest management and, in all aspects of the enterprise, Ethan Allen strives to demonstrate the highest level of environmental stewardship.
The Sage Award winner receives a custom-designed plaque and a complimentary registration to the 2013 Furniture Industry Sustainability Summit in Charlotte, N.C. Gat Creek and Ethan Allen also will be honored during an awards reception on February 20, the opening day of the Summit.
The Sage Award winner was selected by a diverse panel of six judges representing furniture and bedding industry leaders, environmental journalists, sustainability experts and the furniture industry business press. They included sustainability expert Heather Gadonniex, Environmental Product Declaration program manager for Underwriters Laboratories; Robin Wilson, an SFC DESIGNINGreen Leaders and nationally recognized, eco-friendly interior designer who headed up the renovation of Bobby Kennedy’s 1920s Westchester County, N.Y., home to showcase the latest in green technologies and healthy home initiatives; Ryan Trainer, president of the International Sleep Products Association; Heath Combs, a staff writer for Furniture Today, who covers environmental news and authors F/T’s “Green Thoughts” blog; Trish Holder, the creator of GreenspirationHome.com, a homeowner-to-homeowner resource for residential green building and green living; and Richard Prisco, an industrial and furniture design professor in Appalachian State University’s Technology and Environmental Design.
No one from AHFA participates in the Sage Award judging. Results were tabulated by Ken Smith, managing partner of Smith Leonard, a High Point-based accounting firm. The entries were evaluated based on each company’s sustainability efforts, social or community involvement and business success.
The American Home Furnishings Alliance, based in High Point, N.C., represents more than 200 leading furniture manufacturers and distributors, plus about 150 suppliers to the furniture industry worldwide. More information on the Sage Award can be found at www.SageAward.org.