Businesses are held to a higher standard than individuals when it comes to environmental impact. Our commitment to being as sustainable as possible and encouraging more sustainable building/cladding products goes beyond sourcing naturally renewable wood cladding products. We strive to help customers make choices to create the desired look and feel with lumber and fastener systems that will last as long as possible. Increasing the longevity of a wood cladding system may be the “greenest” of green choices and our systems do just that.
All of our energy usage is sourced from wind power, but the true power is based in our company culture. We strive every day to utilize a higher percentage of our material and reduce waste by developing secondary products from edgings and cutoffs to composting and converting sawdust waste back into the soil instead of disposing into landfills.
Our goal to give back more than we take is why we are proud to partner with forest restoration and conservation efforts. A portion of proceeds on every Wood Haven project goes towards One Tree Planted. Wood Haven is also Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified. What does that mean? It means that by third party verification Wood Haven can source and supply wood and wood fiber materials that are produced from forests that are certified to specific standards of sustainability.
The best part is that Wood Haven does not need to sacrifice build quality or longevity to be as sustainable as possible. Contact Wood Haven for your next decking, rainscreen, or custom project and you can bet it will look beautiful, last for years, and be better for the environment than many other options.
Once wind power became more widely available in our area of Kansas in 2018 - Wood Haven quickly decided to switch to 100% wind power. It is an additional cost for our business, but its important to us to support renewable power options. We support all renewable energy.
Custom milling & kiln-drying wood can require large, varying amounts of power - so trying to generate our own power would have resulted in us still pulling from the network at times. By subscribing to a huge wind power network, we can ensure that we are using renewable wind power 100% of the time.
One Tree Planted is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to global reforestation - in 2019 alone they planted 4 million trees, and we helped. Wood Haven’s partnership helps them further their mission - and helps us more effectively feed back into the global system we are a part of.
However, One Tree Planted doesn’t just indiscriminately plant trees to ‘save the world’ - like Wood Haven, they are far more practical. They understand that trees and forests are part of complex environmental systems of use & re-use for air/water, natural habitats, biodiversity, food, jobs, and medicine. And yes, a portion of their trees are planted for harvesting later for lumber and fiber. There has to be an end game if you are going to convince a community anywhere to take the time and effort to plant trees.
Just like when you’re shopping for food or other products, sometimes it’s not enough to just trust the label or marketing when it comes to being as sustainable & eco-friendly as possible. Wood Haven takes the time & energy to really understand responsibly sourcing our materials - and it gets complex quickly!. Evaluating the sustainability comes down to the wood species and where/how it is being harvested & managed. There are 3 big differences to keep in mind: North American forests, South American rainforests, and farmed lumber.
The vast majority of natural forests in North America are naturally replacing themselves at a sustainable rate. Many species are underutilized to a great extent - so eco-friendly US lumber is available! Ash trees are dying by the millions due to Emerald Ash Borer. Using this species helps with the overall health of the forest by removing diseased and dying trees. The Ash is then thermally modified and you get a great durable and stable product from a resource that needs to be actively managed.
Hackberry is another species that gets overlooked much of the time - 98% of marketable Hackberry saw timber goes unused. Most US hardwood forests are owned in millions of small parcels that are sparingly logged every 30 to 40 years or so (many not at all). We recently sent some Hackberry to Wales to be tested for by the Lignia folks as an alternative to farmed Radiata pine. Maybe we can develop a market for this abundant species overseas! Maybe someone will step up and start modifying wood in the US so we don’t have to ship boards from New Zealand to Wales then back to the States.
Sourcing the wood species we get from South America is a much different story. Most of the species we use grow in the rainforest, for the most part owned or managed by the government. The areas we get our Ipe from would not lend themselves to conventional agriculture. Too wet. But there are millions of acres of managed natural forests.
Over the years the rules have changed back and forth but Wood Haven’s sources still harvest based on the IBAMA rules laid out in 2010. These rules provide a very long cycle between logging and removal of just a small percentage of the standing timber. They also protect the land from squatters who may want to clear the land for coffee or other tropical crops - which was a huge problem for decades in the North & Eastern parts of Brazil. Of course, these rules could be improved, but we appreciate that they are making these species viable for a long time - hopefully forever.
Those images you see of burning & clearing in Brazil are almost always images of agriculture expansion in the Cerrado or transitional rain forest where the rainfall is high enough for crops but not as high as the areas that grow the fine timber. So much bad press comes out of that area it is hard to stay on top of it all. But the fact remains that the problem of deforestation is largely due to agricultural expansion, not logging.
Agricultural expansion brings us directly to farmed trees. We wholeheartedly support tree farming or other fiber farming as long as it doesn’t displace natural forests. Farmed Radiata Pine from South America & New Zealand has, for the most part, not displaced old growth natural forests. In some areas it has been planted in areas that were clear cut for timbers decades ago.
But that seems to be changing - and how sustainable are even the best Radiata pine farming practices if they displace natural old growth forests? This is definitely not always the case, but it’s the challenge we struggle with at Wood Haven, looking at the big picture to be as sustainable as possible.
Hemp fiber & bamboo are in a similar boat - in theory they can be very eco-friendly, but the devil is in the details. Growing hemp requires farmland… tractors, fertilizers, herbicides, and lots of energy. Industrial farming also usually leads to monocultures (like corn, wheat, soybeans) where only one crop is grown on the land half the year. Bamboo does indeed grow quickly & sequesters carbon, but it is a subtropical or tropical plant and it’s new popularity creates demand for more farms - some in place of natural forests.
Bottom line is this. Wood Haven tries to ensure that the species we use are from healthily managed, naturally producing forests or responsibly farmed. We don’t claim to be saving the planet, or that any of our products are “100% sustainable” or “100% Green”. We really don’t think those things exist! But we do know that wood is renewable and has a lower carbon footprint than almost any other building material and is amazingly versatile and beautiful.
Because we must. And you should as well. It's a big planet with lots of resources and lots of people. But nothing we do as modern Humans is 100% sustainable. Nothing! But if we all do something and we all care it will make a difference. It's really that simple.
One thing you probably didn’t know about Wood Haven is that we own a farm here in Kansas. Just a small farm that sits in the beautiful Kansas River Valley. While part of it is farmed conventionally we do no-till farming so there is a ground cover thru the winter and we do not spray insecticides on the fallow land and have never had to spray insecticides or fungicides on standing crops or fallow land.
We love it when the Purple Henbit blooms in the spring on our farm. We sadly watch as all the neighbors spray it and kill it because it “might impact” their yield. When in fact it is as good for the soil and the crops as it is pleasing to the eye.
We have also restored a wetland on the land. 17 acres of low, poorly draining land has returned to a natural wetland that harbors thousands of species of life. In its 24th year it is now a federally protected wetland. We have recently applied to increase this area 5-fold. I figure we have enough corn/soybeans & not enough frog ponds.
On some of the remaining farm ground we have experimented with clovers and have recently found a unique clover that withstands drought and wet soils while producing a tremendous amount of nutrition per acre and flowering all summer long. The first beef from this clover will be harvested in November. This is not “grass fed” beef, its legume fattened beef. Just like our lumber - it is more sustainable (half the impact of conventional beef) and higher-quality