An aerial photo shows Copeland Furniture's 3.5 acre solar field.

It's easy being green for Copeland Furniture


Created by
rebecca.straw

The Vermont-based company has held principles of conservation since its founding

When being green meant feeling nauseated rather than being environmentally friendly, Copeland Furniture was producing sustainable furniture. The Bradford-based company has sought to conserve natural resources, especially its sources of hardwood, since its founding.

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Tim Copeland, owner of Copeland Furniture, explains, “An interest in green practices or conservation is something that is endemic to northern New England woodworking. It always has been, largely because people were living in the same place they were harvesting wood.”

The biggest attitude change has not been at Copeland Furniture. Copeland Furniture’s hardwood has always been sustainably harvested from North American forests, and much of the harvesting occurs within 500 miles of the factory, reducing energy expenditure through transportation. Tim Copeland says, “We have not had an epiphany and became green, but people in the larger culture have had an interest in becoming sustainable.”

Copeland Furniture’s ongoing efforts to minimize its environmental impact has been recognized by others in the industry. The Sustainable Furnishings Council awarded Copeland Silver Exemplary Member Status, and in 2009 Copeland Furniture was the second American furniture manufacturer to receive the Sage Award. Created by the American Home Furnishing Alliance, the Sage Award recognizes members of the home furnishings industry who demonstrate environmental leadership.

For Copeland Furniture, sustainable practices have also coincided with economic practices. Tim Copeland says, “For economic reasons and for conservation, we have always had an interest in making our product with less energy input and using sustainable practices.”

One way that Copeland Furniture reduced its energy input has been by erecting a 3.5-acre solar-power field on its property in 2016. The solar panels produce a surplus of energy during spring, summer and early fall. Recently, Copeland Furniture further reduced its energy use by using wood shavings to heat its factory floor. By converting waste into fuel, Copeland Furniture reduces its reliance on fossil fuels while simultaneously reducing materials sent to the landfill.

Similarly, the company has begun repurposing the scraps of wood created when milling wood to its determined size. These wood pieces are now being used in the creation of new furniture rather than filling a dumpster.

Copeland Furniture has also responded to customer demand for furniture finishing that emits fewer harmful gases. The company’s standard finish is a varnish that has been certified by GREENGUARD for low chemical emissions.

Copeland’s next goals are to reduce their packaging waste. Rather than buying individually sized cardboard packaging, Copeland has begun to purchase cardboard packaging in bulk. They cut the corrugated cardboard as needed to the size specified. Additionally, the company is exploring the possibility of purchasing another machine that will shred the trimmings leftover from cutting the boxes. The shredded carboard will then be used in packaging. Any remaining packaging waste is recycled.

While these improvements have reduced Copeland Furniture’s environmental footprint at its factory, the company’s emphasis on producing furniture with timeless designs and durable construction also reduces waste on the consumer’s end. Rather than buying several pieces of furniture over a person’s lifetime, one item from Copeland Furniture may serve the purchaser and their children for years to come. This emphasis on quality over quantity creates some of the greatest reduction of waste. Thus, from freshly sawn logs to final furniture, Copeland Furniture has cultivated a culture of conservationism.

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