At Gat Creek, we approach furniture manufacturing in a holistic manner and take pride both in what we create and how we create it. We actively support the responsible management of forests and understand the importance of sustaining biodiversity. Thanks to our locally sourced material and production, we avoid oil-intensive shipping, deforestation and the unmitigated pollution that's allowed with overseas production. Sustainability is a continuous improvement process within our organization that we started over 15 years ago. We are a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council and hold Silver Exemplary status. We focus on five key tenants: Raw Materials, Energy Minimization, Waste Reduction, Social Equity & Product Lifecycle.
We work exclusively with domestic hardwoods that are harvested from the Appalachian Forests by suppliers that meet strict state and national standards for land & timber management. These “Best Management Practices” have helped the Appalachian mountain region consistently increase its population of hardwood trees over the past 50+ years. We use no lumber from South America, Eastern Europe or Asia, where deforestation still runs largely unchecked. Over 98% of our raw materials are sustainably sourced. Over 95% of our raw materials are locally sourced within 500 mile radius of our factory.
Given the close proximity of our suppliers & customers, our operations use relatively low amounts of oil for transportation. We closely monitor our electric usage and continually upgrade our lighting & motors to the highest & most efficient equipment available. In 2014, we converted our entire facility to LED lighting, reducing our lighting-related electrical use by 70% and overall electrical usage by 25%. In 2009, we installed 1.2M Btu biomass boiler system that uses our off-cut lumber & sawdust as its sole fuel and allowed us to remove a 10,000 gallon underground oil tank.
We formally track 100% of our waste streams, i.e. we monitor everything coming into and going out of our facility, from wood to water to AA batteries, to assure all materials are used wisely and disposed of properly. We have reduced our emissions of HAPs by 90+% and our overall VOC emissions by 40+% over the past 15 years. A number of organizations have recognized us for these efforts. We were the first recipient of the West Virginia Environmental Leadership Award for minimizing waste, liquid and air emissions from our facility. For performance in reducing hazardous wastes, we were recognized as a Top Environmental Steward by the WV Department of Environmental Protection. Operating in a rural community within headwaters of the Potomac River, we have no access to public waste-water treatment and have built & maintain our own system that exceeds current regulations. We have also developed a highly innovative storm water management system that has proven effective enough to earn exemption from annual state monitoring. In 2006, the Business for the Bay Foundation presented us with their Environmental Excellence Award for outstanding pollution prevention activities, projects and outreach to help protect and restore the Chesapeake Bay and its rivers.
We are an employer of choice and one-time finalist in the National Capital Business Ethics Awards. We provide a safe, healthy workplace, competitive wages and excellent health & preventive care. We won the WV Governor’s Safe Workplace Award and continue to operate a facility with incidence rates well below industry norms. We are also a major supporter of our community, with a focus on children and education. We exclusively source our materials & services from North American & European companies to assure all of our supply chain operates within first-world standards.
We manufacture consumer durables (beautiful furniture) that have a useful life cycle in excess of 50 years. Because solid wood allows for better joinery & reparability, our products typically outlast those constructed with plywood & other engineered wood material. Our product is reusable and releases no toxins at its end of life. Our product is an excellent source of carbon sequestration.