Sustainability Story - Converting Wood Waste Into Heat
No better time to visit the topic of sustainability than in the middle of a West Virginia winter. We’re reminded of this part of our sustainability story every time we come into the shop to find it toasty warm. Our team takes great comfort in knowing that the warmth is provided by wood scrap that would otherwise end up in the landfill.
“In real estate the goal is to get the highest value use out of the property. It’s the same principle with lumber,” said Gat Caperton. “The most value you can get from lumber is to make furniture from it. But in doing so about half of it becomes scrap. That’s just the reality in order to create the forms you need.”
A reality the company would not accept was that this scrap would be wasted. Besides being the world’s finest material for crafting furniture, Appalachian hardwoods are a remarkable source of energy, as evidenced by the number of old homes in the hills and hollows whose chimneys still issue ribbons of woodsmoke through the winter.
For Gat Creek, however, the typical fireplace or cast iron wood stove falls a good bit short on the efficiency and cleanliness scale. So we looked elsewhere for a solution and found it in — Austria.
“Our system is Austrian-made and is a super high-tech machine,” Gat said. “It controls the feed rate of the scrap, the amount of oxygen and the smoke coming out. The system is so efficient we are able to rely on scrap for our heat nearly 100% during winter.”
And when the scrap is not needed for heat?
“In the summer we sell the material to the local motocross track,” Gat said. “They use the sawdust to help pad for bad landings and minimize soil erosion.”
Sustainability. It gives you a warm feeling year-round.