Making News

It’s easy being green

US Airways Magazine

US-Air-Photos2“And local builders increasingly are relying on local, natural materials to help cut down on the effects of long-haul transportation and manufacturing: wood, stone, even low-tech but long-lasting poplar bark remain a force in the mountains…”

Fresh Powder

Mountain Living

MntLiv-Apr08_Article2“Everything with the exception of the sink and faucet, is natural or reclaimed. Vincent works with High Sierra Custom, High Camp Home’s in-house builder, to reclaim old barnwood to use for siding. Rough-cut native stone is used for the countertop. Poplar bark shingles add rustic texture and are available from Highland Craftsmen…”

HC Installation Video

Watch this video on how to install Bark Shingles.

Tree House

Verve

verve0708“The bark, often from chestnut trees, was peeled off in large intact sheaths and nailed onto the side of a home. Some original bark-covered homes are still standing in the Linville, North Carolina area.

The McCurrys started making bark shingles out of poplar trees in 1990, and now they sell rustic-looking railings, moldings and split-rail fencing as well. Making shingles out of bark is a good way to make use of what is normally a logging industry by-product, Nan says, which appeals to eco-minded builders. The bark is kiln-dried, which makes it relatively stable (and sterile), but still, bark siding can come complete with woodpecker holes and with traces of poison ivy. The fact that bark is thicker than some other types of siding can make it a good sound insulator…”

Read the article

Washington Post: Redwood

washingtonpost.com

washingtonpost1“Among the forward-thinking design details are an entire wall of bark, which acts like a noise sponge in the airy lounge, and a raised “dining bar” separating the lounge from the dining room.”

Click here to read the Washington Post article.

Bark House Style Celebrates the Past and the Present of Bark Siding

High Country Press

Bark House Style Celebrates the Past and the Present of Bark Siding

“An architectural artform indigenous to North Carolina, bark siding essentially died out with the demise of the mountain chestnuts in the early 20th century, but in recent years, the practice of sheathing structures in bark has undergone a resurgence, thanks to the discovery that poplar bark is similar in function, appearance and longevity to chestnut bark.

To celebrate the history of bark structures and its comeback, two local women have collaborated on a new book, Bark House Style, Sustainable Designs from Nature…”

Read the article.

Up Front: Books

Arts & Crafts Homes

Arts-and-Crafts-pg1“Today’s revival is thanks to a development, by Marty McCurry, of a process for manufacturing bark on house shingles from yellow poplar (tulip poplar).  McCurry and his wife Chris, who is co-author of the book Bark House Style are experts in vernacular and sustainable building practices.”

Bark House Book Announcement

Winkbox Soapbox

winkbox_book“This impressive collection of historic and contemporary stories and images demonstrates the diversity, flexibility and longevity of the natural bark shingle. This book will be an inspiration to interior designers, builders and architects…”

Read the article

The Laurel Book Review: Bark House Style

The Laurel of Asheville

LaurelArticleLarge-Web“Bark House Style describes the many and diverse uses for bark siding. Color photographs throughout the book show bark being used a variety of building projects and mixed with other construction materials including stone, rock, glass, wrought iron and copper. From Adirondack to Modern, the styles that can be enhanced with bark products are unlimited…

For years in our region, chestnut bark was used to make shingles and siding. Sadly, the chestnut blight obliterated the species by the mid-1940’s and the practice of using tree bark in construction nearly faded away. That began to change when Chris and her husband Marty saw several old homes where bark had been used both inside and out. With a deep interest in all things green and sustainable, the couple founded Highland Craftsmen in 1990 and began producing a product line they named Bark House.”

Product Spotlight – New + Notable

Eco Home Magazine

Eco-Home-Page-1“Poplar Bark House shingle siding is made with bark that is removed from yellow poplar trees before they are shipped to sawmills for use in furniture and other manufacturing. The shingles are kiln-dried to prevent shrinking and crackling, and they contain no chemical additives…”

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It’s the bark, not the bite

Mountain Xpress

mtn_xpress-barkbite“Living in a bark house never seemed so cutting edge. As green building surges in popularity throughout Western North Carolina, a new book titled Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs From Nature (Gibbs Smith, 2008) highlights the rustic aesthetic of bark shingles, a traditional building material that’s making a comeback as an element of green design.

The trend may be due in part to the conversation generated anytime a new bark installation is completed…”

Read the article.

Local Authors Launch Bark House Style with Pair of Parties

High Country Press

hcp-bhstyle“Chris McCurry and Nan Chase have completed their book Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature and are holding two launch parties to celebrate.
Afternoon tea parties from 2:00 to 5:00 p.m. will be held on Saturday, September 13, at Eseeola Lodge in Linville and on Sunday, September 21, at The Inn at Ragged Gardens in Blowing Rock.

Chris McCurry is the co-founder and vice president of Highland Craftsmen Inc., the original poplar bark shingle manufacturer located in Spruce Pine. She is a pioneer in today’s indoor-outdoor Bark House® design and creator of the Bark House® style…”

Read the article.

Parson’s Radical Makeover

Architectural Record

ar_parsons02“Parson’s radical makeover brings the life of the school down to street level and will no doubt have profound effects on what happens on the school’s upper floors.  And while the complex already provides a venue for a range of activities, from quiet study to critiques and parties, it will be interesting to see how, in the hands of design-oriented occupants, new and unexpected uses of the space will emerge in the future.

Sources:  Bark Paneling:  Highland Craftsmen Inc”

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Reviving the Old

Mitchell News-Journal

revivingtheold“Spruce Pine native Chris McCurry hopes to cement the architectural style of bark shingle homes into the mountains of Western North Carolina. McCurry’s 2008 Gibbs Smith new-release, top selling book, “Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature,” aims to do just that.”

Bark siding on luxury house blends with Newry landscape

Sun Journal

SunJournal1008“None of us have ever seen it before,” said project manager Ray Hanian of the poplar bark shingles that were first manufactured by Highland Craftsmen Inc. in North Carolina in 1990 and have now become a staple of what is called the Bark House style.”

Read article at http://www.sunjournal.com/node/569980

Blue Ridge Country Bark House Style Review

Blue Ridge Country

br_page1008“Hallmarks of rustic style are the reliance on locally gathered natural materials like wood and stone, and the visual harmony of buildings with the land around them; the elevation, through superior craftsmanship, of unrefined or unfinished architectural elements like posts and beams, brackets and moldings, mantels and railings, into treasured art forms; and a romanticism about the charms of sylvan innocence in the midst of a machine-driven society.

In that last respect, the original bark house style was also a lifestyle, one of classic elegance and high society amid the deep, remote wilderness: the refinement of white linens and afternoon teas, and elaborate dinners and dances, of decorous fresh-air pastimes like carriage rides and croquet, played out against the lush primeval backdrop of moss-covered boulders and dark, soaring timbers. Imagine those long-ago scenes before cell phones, before television, even before radio, when the tinkling sounds of merriment drifted into the forest and melded with the murmurs of swift-running creeks and the haunting cries of wild animals and unseen birds. With the modern revival of bark house style comes the invitation to relax again like this, to dream, to dedicate oneself to companionship and well-nourished ease in the bosom of Nature.”

Bark House Style Coming to Asheville NC

Asheville North Carolina Blog

ashevilleblogoct08“Writer Nan Chase jokes that her intriguing new house is the first 21st century all-bark bungalow built in Asheville…”but it won’t be the last.” She and her husband have recently moved into the poplar bark two-story near Charlotte Street and found the structure “like a fort” for its extra-durable bark construction.”

Read entire article.

The Bark House – New Jersey Magazine

njmonthlynov08“Want a greener home? Think about wrapping it in bark.

Not so unusual in other parts of the country, but rarely seen in our neck of the woods… bark siding looks great, and signals that you are serious about recycling.

Spectrum Construction and Development (www.spectrum-construction.com) is completing the remodeling on what is believed to be the first house in the state with bark siding.  The pristine three bedroom home on Lake Mohawk in Sparta was purchased by a Jersey City woman as  a weekend retreat.

“It ties right into the existing renovation. There’s a lot of stone and logs, she thought it (the bark) would compliment the natural beauty of the stone”, says Spectrum President Don Dyrness.

Link to article.

Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature Book Signing in N.C.

GreenBiz.com

greenbiznov08“After seeing several old homes designed with bark on the exterior and interior, Chris McCurry and her husband resurrected the long lost practice of bark home designing, which originated in North Carolina in the 1800s.

Bark siding is a timeless green-building material that has already been used in the construction of many modern structures today, including the new Denver Broncos Stadium, Bass Pro Shops and in homes in more than 30 states and around the world.”

Read entire article.

Inspirational and Practical – Canadian House & Home

Canadian House & Home

CanadianHH2“Eco design warriors take note: the shaggy, bark-shingle-sided house, briefly popular in the late-19th and early-20th century, is back and greener than ever.”

Builders Booksource: Bark House Style

Builders Booksource

buildersbooksource08“Rustic, refined, natural, organic, unique, sophisticated, timeless, long lasting, sustainable-bark shingles are the material of choice for many of today’s architects, builders, and homeowners. They appear in a breathtaking range of projects: mountain, seaside, and prairie homes; resort lodges and inns; shopping centers; sports venues and other entertainment facilities; and built-in and freestanding cabinetry.

The first use of bark shingles came in the mountains of western North Carolina from the American chestnut tree, sometime in the late 1800s. The style spread quickly through the resort towns and beyond: the classical lines had broad, timeless appeal yet synthesized three recognized decorative styles at the turn of the twentieth century-Rustic Revival, Shingle, and Craftsman but died out after 1940s. In the 1990s, the revival of bark architecture was generated by Marty McCurry, who made it his life’s work to reinvent a modern-day process for manufacturing bark house shingles from poplar bark, utilizing green building practices.”

Go to Builders Booksource.

Barking up the right tree

Carolina Mountain Life

carolinamlarticle“The hallmark bark shingles and clean angles…are currently experiencing a revival themselves. Thanks to the research and dedication of Christie and Marty McCurry, natural bark siding is once again popular not only in the High Country, but all over America…It was a tough road, the skill of making bark siding had been lost. Tools once used to strip bark from logs had to be remade and the knowledge of how to make them had passed a generation before.”

Green building is focus of custom builder

The Sparta Independent

spartaindependent“A custom home renovation project managed by Spectrum Construction & Development Co., Inc. is leading the way when it comes to the green building movement in the state of New Jersey. It is the first in the state to have environmentally friendly bark siding.

The lake front home in Sparta is the inspiration of the owner who first came up with the idea of using Bark House shingles, a product of Highland Craftsmen.

The shingles compliment the rustic craftsman style of the home and are in keeping with the green building design elements being used throughout.”

Link to article

On the bookshelf – Carolina Country

“Bark requires no toxic chemical treatments, can be harvested locally and can live (again) for a century or more.”Carolina Country Book Review

ML Recommends – Mountain Living

“The history, influence and revival of bark architecture are celebrated in this beautifully illustrated design guide.”

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Sustainable Bark House Style – Off Beat Homes

offbeathomesthum

“If you’re interested in bark; or not, but think you could be, I highly suggest reading Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature. It’s chock full of beautiful images partnered with info you can use; either to simply learn more, or to make decisions about building your own bark style house. I was never that into bark, and only picked this book up on a whim, but I’d give it an A.”

Link to article

Sustainable Bark House Style – Blisstree.com

Blisstreeby Jennifer Chait

“I recently got the book, Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature from the library, and it got me thinking a lot about bark in design. I used to think of bark design as more just a rustic beach house look, but this book was cool; it shows a lot of different ways in which bark can be used for home design; from rustic to contemporary. I also didn’t know how sustainable bark could be.”

Read the article at blisstree.com

Latest Trend is Ignoring Fickle Fashions – Today’s Custom Home

“‘We’re noticing a real trend of people starting to di what they want to do…’ Maybe it stems from the desire to create a true sanctuary in these uncertain times.”

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A Place for the Heart – Winston Salem Monthly

This month’s issue of the Winston Salem Monthly touts the Bark House Style, synonymous with “paradise” resort town, Blowing Rock, NC. “Inspired by [the Highland Craftsmen] article in Southern Living [and new book Bark House Style], [Mayor John Bost] chose to cover [his] stick-built cabin in poplar bark shingles-an old mountain craft that was quickly becoming a green building sensation.” Mrs. Bost states that her Blowing Rock mountain fantasy was created in her own backyard of Clemmons, using Bark House brand shingles and made her dream come true.

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Cultural Contribution Award – The Mountain Times

mountaintimesaward“The Cultural Contribution award is given to the organization that has made a significant cultural contribution to our community for the year 2008. Five nominations were made in this category: The Blowing Rock Stage Company’s TOPS Program, for their work with kids and the performing arts. Highland Craftsmen, for the Publication of Christie McCurry’s Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs from Nature. The Blue Wine & Food Festival, for its support of the arts, culinary arts, wine making and service organizations in the community. An Appalachian Summer Festival for the many arts attractions the program brings to the High Country in the summer. St. Mary’s Tour of Homes, for presenting historic and significant architecture in Blowing Rock while raising funds for local charities.”

Link to article.

A Woodsy Neighbor in the City

American Bungalow

March 05, 2009

“…In 1916, the expanding National Park Service strongly encouraged the use of bark for service buildings…”

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Bark House on ecohome about poplar shingle siding

www.ecohomemagazine.com
March 13, 2009

“Poplar Bark House shingle siding is made with bark that is removed from yellow poplar trees before they are shipped to sawmills for use in furniture and other manufacturing.”

Go to ecohome article about poplar bark siding.

Bass Pro building nearly finished

Toledo Free Press

toledo-free-press2“Be it door hardware, siding or the store’s two glass-paneled elevators, many of the buildings elements are trimmed with reclaimed barn wood, fiberglass logs, stamped tin, bark shingles or cedar-based siding…”

Bark House Massive Slabs in Furniture Today

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Meridian tables featuring Bark House Massive Wooden Slabs gets great write up in Furniture Today
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Bark House – The leader in rustic indigenous building products

Bark houses originated as dwellings for indigenous peoples.  Certain barks peel easily from trees during different seasons.  Because complicated milling equipment was not necessary and bark was known as the protection for the tree, it was an easy transition to use the material for personal and family shelter.  It made sense.

In 1895, bark houses became more refined when society architect Henry Bacon created the first squared edge bark shingle from the American Chestnut Tree for an exclusive community in Linville, North Carolina.  An architect known for his ability to find the perfect solution to any problem, he is the designer of the world famous Lincoln Memorial.  After the chestnut tree blight, no one used bark for houses for 50 years.

Bark House has its roots in natural building.  Today, Bark House® is a leader in the shift toward sustainable or wholistic building technology.  Created from natural materials, it encompasses a diminished impact on the earth and biodegrades cleanly at the end of the lifecycle, creating a cradle to cradle model.  Highland Craftsmen Inc has made authentic living, Simple!

Bark House part of the Natural Elegance Collection

Furniture Today

Mayland Court furniture incorporating Bark House laminates is featured in Best of the Market section of Furniture Today.

Natural Elegance

Highland Craftsmen Inc. Receives Cradle to Cradle Gold Certification

Press Release – For Immediate Release

Contact: Chris McCurry
Tel: 828-765-9010
Email: chris@barkhouse.com

Spruce Pine, NC, November 10th, 2009 – Bark House® brand exterior shingle siding is now Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM at the Gold Level. Products are rated by C2C for material content, recyclability, manufacturing characteristics and the company’s social accountability. This is a high honor to achieve. Highland Craftsmen Inc and the Bark House® brand’s mission since inception in 1990 has been to minimize the impact of building through harmonization with nature. When HC started out to revive bark architecture and reinvent modern-day processes for manufacturing Bark House® shingles from poplar bark, utilizing green practices, green was still considered a color, not a building practice. Today HC joins a growing list of destination as a leader in green technology that have embraced a process to “tangibly, credibly measure achievement in environmentally-intelligent design and helps customers purchase and specify products that are pursuing a broader definition of quality.”

Owner Chris McCurry explains, ” the C2C certification helps Highland Craftsmen Inc. communicate how serious we are about the role we take in sustainable building practices.” McCurry found the demanding certification process helpful as it evaluated the company as a whole rather than just an individual product. As stated by McDonough Braungart Design Chemistry, LLC , “Cradle to Cradle Certification assesses products for their ingredients’ human and environmental health characteristics, their recyclability or compostability, and manufacturing process – including renewable energy use, water stewardship and social responsibility.”

From MBDC website “Cradle to Cradle Design is a fundamental conceptual shift away from the flawed system design of the Industrial Revolution. Instead of designing products and systems based on the take-make-waste model of the last century (‘cradle to grave’), MBDC’s Cradle to Cradle Design paradigm is powering the Next Industrial Revolution, in which products and services are designed based on patterns found in nature, eliminating the concept of waste entirely and creating an abundance that is healthy and sustaining. Eco-Effectiveness is MBDC’s design strategy for realizing these results by optimizing materials to be food either for nature’s ecosystems or for humans’ industrial systems—perpetually circulating in closed systems that create value and are inherently healthy and safe.”

For years the Bark House® brand has been known as a mark of distinction due to their sound research and unwavering commitment to quality. The C2C Certification is a natural capstone for an authentically good company that has sought third party certifications that reflect their commitment as an exemplary company that manufactures exemplary products. HC’s commitment to the environment is matched by their commitment to their local economy. HC created a brand new manufacturing industry that has generated hundreds of jobs for the Appalachian Region. These jobs will not be outsourced because of the materials point of origin and our rigorous processing timelines. HC continues to educate their suppliers and the public about the importance of sustainable procurement through educational activities and program sponsorships with local community colleges, universities and professional organizations. HC has a triple bottom line philosophy.

Bark House® brand shingles are available through a number of distribution channels including Lowe’s Hardware. You may also call their family based North Carolina company at 828-765-9010 or visit their website at www.BarkHouse.com for more information. Highland Craftsmen Inc is the only company that manufactures The Bark House® brand, so ask for it by name.

GoBlueRidge.net – Three Area Businesses Receive Grant Money to Continue Green Work – Constantly Updated High Country NC News Source

From GoBlueRidge.net
Written by Adam Hicks
Thursday, November 19 2009

Small businesses in Watauga, Mitchell, and Catawba County were three of 18 that received grant money from the state to continue their work in green initiatives.

According to Governor Bev Perdue’s office, High Country Green Box LLC in Boone was awarded a $97,989 grant.  High Country Green Box is working on a green solution for the affordable housing crisis in North Carolina Repurposing “Standard International Shipping Units” that are currently being discarded, into energy-efficient modular housing units.

Highland Craftsmen Inc. in Spruce Pine was given a $31,985 grant to create a job training course that creates environmentally preferable building product supply chain encouraging the use of bark shingles from local, sustainably managed forests to be used as green building material.

SunQest, Inc. in Newton was awarded $50,718 in grant money to create a solar thermal enhancement and in state manufacturing commercializing a solar thermal system to heat residential, building, pool and other medium-temperature applications.

The Governor’s office said the grant money was made available through the federal recovery and reinvestment act and came through the N.C. Energy Office’s State Energy Program.

Source: GoBlueRidge.net

Bark House in TechJournal South

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Eighteen NC firms get stimulus money for green projects
November 20, 2009

RALEIGH, NC – Eighteen North Carolina companies will receive federal stimulus grants to spur development in green technology, Gov. Bev Perdue said Wednesday.  Each company plans to develop and market green and alternative energy technologies. According to the Office of the Governor the grants will create more than 200 jobs.

Read More at TechJournal

Highland Craftsmen Inc Honored as Green Innovator from NC Board of Science and Technology

Press Release – For Immediate Release
Highland Craftsmen Inc.’s sustainable products training receives Green Business Fund Award.

Spruce Pine, NC, November 24th, 2009 – Governor Bev Perdue issued an official press release last week at the Energy Policy Council meeting announcing the 2009 Round 2 Green Business Fund Awardees that included Highland Craftsmen Inc. This is part of an initiative to strengthen state energy policy leadership and grow the Governor’s JobsNOW Green Economy Plan.

Highland Craftsmen Inc. is honored to be a recipient of the Green Innovation Award. This acknowledgement is related to a successful job training seminar the company sponsored on sustainable forestry and bark harvesting. Participants stated that the seminar was both timely and needed in this area of the Southern Appalachians. The goal of the seminar was to link small landowners directly to sustainable forestry management organizations and proliferate sustainable forestry management. “By localizing the supply chain with certified local products, we are increasing the market share for local individuals, creating new jobs in high unemployment areas, and retaining the flow of capital within local economies,” explains company owner and organizer, Chris McCurry.

The seminar involved representatives coming from diverse arenas including NC State University, Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI), PEFC, Game and Wildlife and Pro-logger. There was local representation from Appalachian Hardwood Manufacturers, Columbia Forest Products and The Southern Forests Network. “Dave Woodmanse from American Tree Farm was indispensible in helping to set up the daylong workshop,” McCurry noted.

Highland Craftsmen Inc will now be able to edit and duplicate the material presented at the seminar and distribute it to those who wish to learn from the presentation, but could not attend. One aspect of selling forestry products to Highland Craftsmen Inc is that vendors must have education in sustainable forestry practices. The company is “chain of custody” certified with FSC, SFI and PEFC as part of their commitment to managing forest land responsibly.

Governor Perdue states that “Strong leadership and smart investments are essential to laying a foundation for North Carolina to create green jobs, support green innovation and promote a sustainable future for our state’s economy and environment…Turning green into gold is a central part of my JobsNOW initiative and of my vision to grow North Carolina’s long-term economy.”

Highland Craftsmen Inc is the Original Polar Bark Shingle manufacturer, which has created a new industry in the Appalachian region to help grow the “green collar jobs” that Governor Perdue references. The company’s mission from inception in 1990 has been to produce a product line that is harmonious with nature (green) and minimizes the impact of construction. HC is proud to call North Carolina home and is involved and invested in the community through volunteering, serving on boards and town revitalization projects. The company’s Bark House brand exterior shingle siding is Cradle to Cradle CertifiedCM at the Gold Level. To learn more about Highland Craftsmen Inc and Bark House brand products, visit the website at www.BarkHouse.com.

Contact: Chris McCurry
Tel: 828-765-9010
Email: chris@barkhouse.com

Our Poplar Bark Shingles Featured on CSMonitor.com

Read about author/writer Nan Chase’s choice to build with Highland Craftsmen’s Poplar Bark Shingles: ” My own interest in building a bark house came while I was helping to write a book on the subject (“Bark House Style: Sustainable Designs From Nature,” with Chris McCurry).”  read the full article at csmonitor.com

Highland Craftsmen Gets Nod as Cool Product from GreenBuild 2009

Alex Wilson of BuildGreen.com had this to say about HC’s Bark House Poplar Siding:
“MBDC had a booth focused on its Cradle to Cradle product certification, where it displayed Bark House, a residential siding made by Highland Craftsmen from the bark of the tulip tree (Leriodendron tulipifera), which is sometimes—incorrectly—referred to as a poplar. The bark, a byproduct, is peeled from recently felled trees, cut to size, flattened, fully kiln-dried, and heat-sterilized. The bark itself provides its own “backing” and weatherproof layer. And it looks really cool—rather like, well, bark. The cost is fairly reasonable, too: about $6–$9 per square foot ($70–$100/m2) for the material or $12–$14 per square foot ($130–$150/m2) installed. BuildingGreen reviewed Bark House for our GreenSpec directory, but I had never really grasped one of the real beauties of this product: when you want to replace it, you just pull it off and throw it into the woods to decompose. The product has become one of the few building products to earn a Cradle to Cradle Gold rating from MBDC.”
Click here to read his full review.

Alex Wilson of BuildGreen.com had this to say about HC’s Bark House Poplar Siding:

“MBDC had a booth focused on its Cradle to Cradle product certification, where it displayed Bark House, a residential siding made by Highland Craftsmen from the bark of the tulip tree (Leriodendron tulipifera), which is sometimes—incorrectly—referred to as a poplar. The bark, a byproduct, is peeled from recently felled trees, cut to size, flattened, fully kiln-dried, and heat-sterilized. The bark itself provides its own “backing” and weatherproof layer. And it looks really cool—rather like, well, bark. The cost is fairly reasonable, too: about $6–$9 per square foot ($70–$100/m2) for the material or $12–$14 per square foot ($130–$150/m2) installed. BuildingGreen reviewed Bark House for our GreenSpec directory, but I had never really grasped one of the real beauties of this product: when you want to replace it, you just pull it off and throw it into the woods to decompose. The product has become one of the few building products to earn a Cradle to Cradle Gold rating from MBDC.”

Click here to read his full review.

Highland Craftsmen Receives “Main Street” Initiative Funding

Gov. Bev Perdue today announced that more than $330,000 in federal Recovery Act funds have been awarded to eight North Carolina “Main Street” communities to help with energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.  The grants are the first distribution of money from the North Carolina Energy Program for the state’s Main Street initiative.
“North Carolina continues to use recovery funds for job creation and energy efficiency,” said Gov. Perdue.  “These grants will provide service jobs for local businesses and help local communities save money on utility bills.”
Federal Recovery Act funds handed down through The North Carolina Energy Office, in partnership with the N.C. Main Street Center making a difference in long-term sustainable changes for energy efficiency.
Specific to Spruce Pin, NC and Highland Craftsmen: $66,938 for the installation of a solar photovoltaic system to be located on the roof of a vacant service station in downtown Spruce Pine.  The solar system will produce a 12.3 percent energy cost reduction in the first year of operation for Craftsmen Inc./The Calafate Group.  The energy generated from the solar system will be used to partially offset the costs associated with operating drying kilns which are used in the manufacturing process to dry, sterilize, and convert large sections of tree bark into the company’s “Bark House” brand exterior shingles.  Funding will also assist in energy efficiency upgrades of three kilns. In total, the project represents a 52.3 percent reduction in energy use by the manufacturer.
Click here to See the Full Press Release from The NC Office of Economic Recovery

Gov. Bev Perdue today announced that more than $330,000 in federal Recovery Act funds have been awarded to eight North Carolina “Main Street” communities to help with energy efficiency and renewable energy initiatives.  The grants are the first distribution of money from the North Carolina Energy Program for the state’s Main Street initiative.

“North Carolina continues to use recovery funds for job creation and energy efficiency,” said Gov. Perdue.  “These grants will provide service jobs for local businesses and help local communities save money on utility bills.”

Federal Recovery Act funds handed down through The North Carolina Energy Office, in partnership with the N.C. Main Street Center making a difference in long-term sustainable changes for energy efficiency.

Specific to Spruce Pin, NC and Highland Craftsmen: $66,938 for the installation of a solar photovoltaic system to be located on the roof of a vacant service station in downtown Spruce Pine.  The solar system will produce a 12.3 percent energy cost reduction in the first year of operation for Craftsmen Inc./The Calafate Group.  The energy generated from the solar system will be used to partially offset the costs associated with operating drying kilns which are used in the manufacturing process to dry, sterilize, and convert large sections of tree bark into the company’s “Bark House” brand exterior shingles.  Funding will also assist in energy efficiency upgrades of three kilns. In total, the project represents a 52.3 percent reduction in energy use by the manufacturer.

Click here to See the Full Press Release from The NC Office of Economic Recovery

Chris McCurry speaking on Sustainable Procurement

Chris McCurry speaking on Sustainable Procurement at High Country Alternative Agriculture Conference at Mayland Community College on February 2, 2010.  This event is coordinated through the NC Cooperative Extension.  For more information, see this brochure.

This discussion will include information on sustainable poplar bark shingle procurement and all natural posts.

High Country Businesses Unite for Haitian Disaster Relief

When disaster strikes, people in western North Carolina extend a helping hand.  It’s a part of the local culture.  M-Prints, a Watauga county business, has created t-shirts to benefit the American Red Cross Haitian Disaster Relief Fund.  Businesses across the high country are responding by selling them at their perspective locations.  The idea is that by increasing the availability of the shirts at different types of businesses, the public will have a greater response. “Many Hands Make the Load Lighter” is the theme of the t-shirt.  To make this opportunity accessible to businesses and individuals wanting to contribute, Highland Craftsmen Inc is transporting the t-shirts to businesses in Avery and Mitchell Counties that have daily foot traffic.  Currently two businesses, Mountain Lumber Company in Foscoe and DTs Blue Ridge Java in Spruce Pine are selling the shirts in their areas.  Companies such as these are staples in their communities.  As such, they were eager to help.

Shirts are $10 each with $7.50 of each sale going directly to Red Cross. For a list of places to purchase t-shirts and get full details, click on this link. If your business is interested, you can contact M-Prints or Chris McCurry at HC for details.Haiti

Clean Energy Week, HC gets its solar on

February 1 to 5 has been declared Clean Energy Week .

“The Primary Objective of Clean Energy Week is to engage Congress and the Administration to take action on climate solutions, renewable energy, and energy efficiency, which remain top priorities for the American people and are essential components of job creation and economic growth.”

Highland Craftsmen Inc is excited to add solar energy to our material processing.  We have historically purchased renewable energy credits to offset the small amount of grid energy we use in manufacturing.  By spring, the electricity we once used for our kilns will now be supplied from photovoltaic panels.  We are so excited.  The solar panels are also a pre-requisite for our Cradle to Cradle Certification.

Our project was awarded Federal Recovery Act funds that are being handed down through The North Carolina Energy Office, in partnership with the N.C. Main Street Center.  There will be a second round of funding for Main Street designated towns and businesses.  The businesses best positioned for the awards already have written plans, energy assessments and serious numbers in place that substantiate the grant.  HC would like to be grid free in 5 years.

Our Bark Shingles Makes Materials Monday

Lloyd Alter out of Toronto posts an article in the Design and Architecture section of Treehugger.com titled “Bark Shingles: If it Works For Trees, Why Not Houses.”

TreeHugger.com Materials MondayAlter writes:
“Humans only invented vinyl siding a few decades ago, but tree bark has been protecting trees for quite a while longer. Bark shingles were often used on Craftsman style houses in the early 1900s, but they were made from chestnut, which was almost wiped out in a blight. A century later, they still look good. Chris and Marty McCurry started looking at bark shingles in the early nineties and reinvented them, reintroducing them as a product in 1996.”

Click here to read the full TreeHugger post

Evaluating Green Certifications

A Guide for Business Leaders

A Guide for Business Leaders

As “Green” businesses grow and green-washing creates confusion for mainstream public, the need for organizations that evaluate and certify green businesses is growing. Problem is, how do you,the business leader choose which certifier to recommend to your organization’s board? This blog should help you start the process of evaluating certification organizations.  It will give you questions to ask and items to consider.

Many business leaders find the certification processes lacking in clarity and limiting in scope. The organizations that provide the certification may not have a lot of practical experience related to your work.  After all, green businesses are a relatively new phenomenon. All certifying bodies learn as they go and as new information is available, same as any other company or process.  However, some certifications have more to learn than others when their criteria are built solely on ideology and not practice.  They may not be ready for you. Some certification strata exclude “valid” organizations in benchmarking. There is a tremendous effort going on now by SFI to be accepted by LEED, for example. And there is the ever present “shiny big box companies” that canblind certifiers to the needs and importance of small businesses. Large companies have larger marketing departments, get more free press, have more economic strength and offer larger contracts to certifiers. Of course consumers who wish to maintain the power of their purchase can ultimately choose to develop their own criteria to evaluate the merit of a green business.  Ultimately, the very consumers that you are trying to attract, may not know about the certification you are evaluating, or even care.

The first item to consider is whether the certification is a good fit for your company and your goals. You may want to gain more credibility or recognition for the uniqueness of your company’s product or service.  Others may want to differentiate themselves from competitors, or improve performance.   When contemplating the reasons for green certification, it is important to decide which of the three green piers (environmental, social or economic) a particular certification will evaluate your company on. Some cover more than one as noted below. Conversely, it is just as important that you evaluate how the certifications enhance and support these areas for you.  In other words, what are the benefits to your company when you receive the certification?  As a business leader, you want it all, but not all certifications offer that.  Some are more transparent than others and some work harder than others to maximize your benefits.
Independent – many see this as a critical point for green certifications or otherwise. Any certification body must be totally independent from influence by any other organization. The certification organization must be able to impartially and without influence, examine and award certification to only those individuals that meet the requirements.

A second item to evaluate is how the certification can improve your operations. The only certainty is that you will be updating your company manuals.  If your company already performs well, it’s entirely possible that you will not have to change how you do things in practice.  If you’re not certain of your performance, then the certification process can help you improve that area, and thereby improve your company, creating a win-win situation. Some certifiers are more holistic in their ideology, such as Cradle to Cradle. They evaluate issues such as water consumption, energy usage and recycling that occurs during product manufacturing. When trying to improve operations, you may decide to go outside of specialized green certifiers to more mainstream programs such as OSHA to assist with core issues such as health and safety in your workplace.  There is nothing like going through a third party auditing process to get an objective perspective on how you may need to improve, and what you are already great at.

Every business is concerned with the bottom line.  Issues such as cost of certification and marketing value will weigh in on your decision making process.  There will be surprises along the way, so prepare.  Some certifications have multiple levels and each level can mandate additional third party certifications, adding time and expense. If a certifier states they will “help you celebrate your successes” ask for a specific plan and examples of what they have done in the past.  Pay close attention to certification organization’s websites. Is the list of certified companies easy to find or are they hidden behind multiple links? Certifiers such as B Corp promote certified businesses B to B, in the media and at open forums such as trade shows 4. Remember that your community and internal staff are potential marketing agents for you.  Going through a certification process provides opportunities to educate both on what’s important about what you’re doing.  Ask them to share your story.  Of course, celebrate your own successes with an event or reception, do a press release and go to trade shows.  Update marketing literature to showcase your distinguished designations.  Have a press kit ready so when local or national media want to feature you in a story, you’ll be ready. Financial benefits from certifications can also be direct.  Buyers, professional more than non-professional are requiring chain of custody that validates product sourcing thereby opening markets and increasing sales for companies that hold these certifications. Your bottom line can be improved by the marketing strength of the certifying organization, your marketing plans and direct sales opportunities.  Consider all these as possibilities.

The structure of the certifying organization may be the last thing on your list, but it could be the most important of all the criteria you consider.  That’s because they are not all created equal. One scenario is that the certification is not transparent and has legal tactics such as tight fisted non-disclosure agreements.  These can prohibit you from discussing any disagreements in open forum and limit your ability to contest their decisions. Don’t assume that because a certification represents itself as holistic and forthright, that it is.  Read the fine print. The following excerpt is adapted from an article written by Richard Rudd for the National Board of Certified Pastoral Counselors. The information that is applicable for that specialty field is applicable here as well.

Independent – many see this as a critical point for green certifications or otherwise. Any certification body must be totally independent from influence by any other organization. The certification organization must be able to impartially and without influence, examine and award certification to only those individuals that meet the requirements.

Standards for certification or re-certification are determined without requiring the approval of any other organization. Ideally, the governing body and/or certification body will include individuals from the discipline being certified and the composition of the body should address the needs of the users. This will ensure self-determination by those receiving and using the certification, but for broader certifications is not always possible.

Credible – It should be fairly easy for you to research the credibility of the certification organization. Always remember that you are tying your professional, and sometimes personal, credibility to this organization. For individual certifications, evaluate the educational, experiential and testing requirements of the organization.

Information about the certification program should be easily accessible by the public. This should include a description of the organization; its purpose, goals, objectives and responsibilities. The eligibility requirements, a summary of skill and knowledge areas, and information regarding certification activities should also be available. The organization should have clear policies and procedures for its members and the public.

Code of Ethics or Code of Conduct

Grievance procedures

Consumer compliant procedure

Research any organizations that the certification body belongs to. The organization is tying its reputation to these organizations in a similar fashion that you are tying your reputation to it.

Non-profit – Public- this is not a necessity, but it will give you an idea, beyond the stated goals, about the purpose for the certification organization. This also will ensure oversight regarding the business practices of the organization, and will provide you with an additional, formal grievance process. Privately owned companies could be more cloak and dagger than publicly held organizations.

Checking references is a standard practice in any business and should not be overlooked here.  Although there are many oversight programs that set quality standards for certification programs, there are currently none that are doing this for the green building industry. The US Green Building Council states that their members determine the direction of their certification programs. Examples of such oversight programs can be found in the healthcare system which has been long established and highly regulated. So, as a member of a young profession, the green business movement leaders may have to rely on old fashioned research.  Call the businesses listed on the certifying organization’s website and ask them about the benefits of certification.

Making an investment in green certifications is an important consideration.  In the words of our pastoral writer, Richard Rudd “Make sure that the certification organization, with which you choose to align your professional reputation, can accept this responsibility.”

About the Author

Chris McCurry is a founder and current owner of Highland Craftsmen Inc.  This business has received a number of green certifications, including Cradle to Cradle Gold Certification. HC was founded in 1990 when green was still a color. Since that time, their mission has been to decrease the impact of construction and harmonize with nature.  Chris’s experience began as a “wholistic nurse” where she received educational preparation in systems theory.  Product designer, corporate strategist, social entrepreneur and cultural advocate, she is also the coauthor of Bark House Style, Sustainable Designs from Nature.

HC Receives Distinguished SHARP Award for Worksite Safety

(Spruce Pine, NC) North Carolina Department of Labor Commissioner Cherie Berry, along with officials from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) presented its distinguished Safety and Health Achievement Recognition Program (SHARP) award to Highland Craftsmen Inc at the company’s manufacturing facility in Spruce Pine, NC. Company employees were joined by state, county and town representatives.  These included Juleigh Sitton, the Director of Governor Perdue’s Western Office; Mitchell County Manager Charles Vines; Town of Spruce Pine Mayor, Ralph Hise and Town Manager Richard Canipe.

SHARP is the highest honor OSHA awards to small worksites that demonstrate an exemplary commitment to workplace safety and health. There are eighty-nine SHARP companies in North Carolina.  Forty-one of those are in the West district, which contains thirty-five counties.  HC is the first business in Mitchell County to receive this honor.

During the ceremony, HC owner, Marty McCurry thanked the employees for their daily contribution to the company’s success, stating, “We spend more time together than we do with our families.  It’s important that we take care of each other and providing a safe work environment is our primary responsibility”.  McCurry went on to thank the community for its support.

Highland Craftsmen Inc is a company that has created many new products from what was once considered forest waste, including their nationally acclaimed Bark House® brand shingles.  This involved designing and constructing several new tools.  HC VP and Occupational Health Nurse, Chris McCurry states “We didn’t just want to get the job done, we wanted to do it right”.  Chris and company Safety Manager, Gary McCurry, coordinated OSHA visits to ensure that the company lives up to it’s guiding principle, “Simply do your best on everything, every time”.  At the end of the process, HC staffers would definitely recommend calling the OSHA team in to review company policies and procedures.  “They were thorough, but great to work with,” acknowledges Gary.  “With OSHA’s help, we have improved our safety program with participation from all employees.”

Acceptance into SHARP by OSHA identifies a company as a model for worksite safety and health. Upon receiving SHARP recognition, a worksite is exempt from programmed inspections for two years. After this exemption period is over, the employer may be awarded a renewal of up to three years.

Earth 365 With Highland Craftsmen

As Highland Craftsmen embraces the idea of a future where Earth Day is every-day, students for the Sustainable Development Program at ASU come to share their ideas as stakeholders in the company.  Brooke Kornegay, The Farm Manager at  Appalachian State University’s Goodnight Family Sustainable Development Program Living Learning, brought two groups form the ASU campus in Boone to tour the Spruce Pine based facility.  Students were introduced to the philosophy and practical application of sustainability expressed in true Bark House fashion.  The group toured and were invited to share their observations and questions.

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The Q & A Between Highland Craftsmen and ASU Students (Student Comments & Questions in BOLD, HC answers in Italics)

I am extremely impressed with your business.  It’s awesome that you can be so sustainable and also appeal to a variety of people and markets.  Keep up the good work. I was very impressed by the future plans of using sustainable appropriate technology on the campus. Why did you choose poplar bark?

We proved longevity of the material through observation of existing poplar structures (80+ years).  It gives us the long straight uniform cylinders of bark that is easily peeled and processed.

What other types are common besides the chestnut that you mentioned?

Poplar and Hemlock.

What’s the most popular selected bark?

For exterior applications the poplar is the only bark of choice.  For interior, white birch.

What kind of capital investment did it take to get such an operation running?

We started small and grew over time.  Initial investment was “25 hours” a day.

How many employees?

Depending on the harvest season, 15 to 60.

Great job really thinking about the big picture of your business from the beginning to the end.  Thanks for demonstrating that fun ideas can become a successful business. You’ve got a good sustainable operation going that benefits the community and helps local foresters.  Keep it up and best wishes! This building is awesome.  How long did it take to build?

All the buildings that are a part of the campus are reclaimed structures originally built in the 40’s.  The remodels are ongoing as we constantly experiment with new applications.

I like how you said that the members of the community are stakeholders in the business.  Are you a part of any other community oriented activities / sustainability organizations, non-profits?

We are B-Corp Certified and Audited which reflects our intention and realization of community engagement.  We serve on the Main Street Board in Spruce Pine.  There are many means through which we contribute, but the most direct activity we engage in is providing firewood to needy families.

Do you work with landowners who may want to use bark from their own trees on their house?

Our processing is intense and sophisticated.  Landowners can sell raw material to us and then buy finished materials from us.

Every aspect of the business is well thought out and refined to be as sustainable as possible.  I love that you don’t cut down or accept living trees indiscriminately.  Way to go working to get off the grid!

• Waste + hands on value= saleable product

It must be very satisfying to use so much of an artistic element.  This celebrates true individuality.

Rep. Frye and Sen. Queen Instrumental in New Jobs for Spruce Pine

Spruce Pine – Through the efforts of the local state legislative delegation, the Town of Spruce Pine will soon see ten new jobs in downtown along with the complete renovation and redesign of the former Express Market CITGO Station building. State Representative Phillip Frye and State Senator Joe Sam Queen joined hands to advocate on behalf of the town for the funding of a $199,124 N.C. Rural Economic Development Center Building Reuse Grant to help support the project. Frye and Queen were notified late last week that the grant was approved.

Grant funds will be used to re-construct the Oak Avenue (Upper Street) building known locally as the CITGO Service Station. Vacant for a number of years, the building was recently purchased by Highland Craftsmen, Inc., a manufacturer of poplar bark shingles and specialty wood products used in the building trades. Highland is located across the street from the station property. Spokesperson Chris McCurry said “Highland plans to use the building as a design center for an expanded Barkhouse Brand product line and additional manufacturing space.” The project is part of a downtown campus plan that the company is working toward to accommodate growing demand for its products.  Once complete the project will create at least ten new jobs, according to McCurry.

“This project will bring some much-needed manufacturing jobs to the town as well as serve as an integral part of the long range strategic plan Highland Craftsmen has for improving the aesthetics of that part of downtown,” Rep. Frye said. “I’m all about jobs,” Frye continued, “and this shows how the town, its businesses and state legislators can work together to make something positive happen.”

Senator Joe Sam Queen said, “I know the challenges Spruce Pine and Mitchell County have faced in recent years with the loss of so many manufacturing jobs. When we have a chance to create new jobs or save existing jobs in my district, I’ll be working actively with business and industry, local and state elected officials and state and federal agencies to make sure it happens.  I was proud to help make this happen for Spruce Pine and its citizens.”

The grant is awarded to the Town on behalf of Highland Craftsmen and will be administered through execution of agreements between the company, the Town, and the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center. Highlands Craftsmen will provide over $200,000 toward project costs to match the grant funds.

Media Contact:
Chris McCurry
828.765.9010
chris@barkhouse.com

Chris McCurry at Carolina Connect 2010

Chris McCurry will be participating in Carolina Connect 2010: Innovation Through Entrepreneurship and Intrapreneurship. This year Chris will be one of the featured speakers as part of the “Inside the Minds of CEOs” Panel Discussion. Moderated by Henry Doss, an AdvantageWest Board Director and a business consultant and principal with Avenue ISR, a consumer research and business strategy practice based in Traverse City, Michigan. The successful leaders of some of the region’s most admired companies share their secrets in an informal “conversation with the CEOs” setting. What energizes them? What is the one thing they must do every day, without fail? What keeps them awake at night? What do they view as the best opportunities in today’s economy?

Other entrepreneurial leaders that will join McCurry on the panel will be:

Michael Shore is CEO of FLS Energy, a solar energy generation company headquartered in Asheville. The company, which started with three employees in 2006 and today has more than 50, has developed, designed, installed, and financed some of the most important solar energy projects in the Southeast. Shore has written extensively on sustainability issues, and he served on the U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Efficiency Leadership Group and North Carolina’s Global Climate Change Commission. He has Master’s degrees in both Civil Engineering and in Environmental Policy.

Toby Stansell is president of OOBE, Inc., a company based in Greenville SC, that has been designing and creating uniforms that are stylish, functional, comfortable, and durable since the early 1990s. OOBE works collaboratively with its customers – which include premier national brands such as Chick‐fil‐A, Wolverine, Food Lion and Stone Mountain Park – to create a custom apparel program that fits the company’s brand image.

Greg Lucas is director of business development for Creative Allies, a new social network that brings bands and fans together around user‐ generated art. An expansion of Music Allies, an Asheville‐based marketing and promotions company that works with major festivals and independent record labels, Creative Allies allows anyone to create content for companies, brands and even rock stars and get paid for it.

As one of the leaders in the the Green Business industry, she will lead a discussion on “How the Clam Makes the World’s Hardest Ceramics at Room Temperature.” This panel discussion will address how thinking like nature can drive radical innovation. Chris McCurry has extensive experience in creating an industry around the very foundations of sustainable building practices. Excited to bring her background and perspective to the conversation had this to say about Carolina Connect, “I think the emphasis of this conference is process and will therefore appeal to a wide audience.  It’s not so much what the speakers have done, but how they did it and what it took to accomplish the task.”

Chris McCurry has successfully lead Highland Craftsmen through key sustainable business certifications, such as, Cradle to Cradle Gold, B Corp, and Chain of Custody.

Carolina Connect is presented by Advantage West and will be held at the Renaissance Asheville Hotel on May 13.

William McDonough on Cradle to Cradle Certified Bark House Brand Shingles

This is so Awesome; we could not avoid sharing it with You. I was lucky enough to find the time to make the drive down to see William McDonough’s lecture last month in Charlotte NC. Included in his presentation was a reference to the life of trees, and how a house can aspire to mimic the perfection of this design. He showed a technical interpretation of this futuristic idea as well as Highland Craftsmen’s Bark House brand shingle siding, which is produced today.

Bill graciously invited me to dinner with the Charlotte Center City Planning Group. The conversation was broad reaching as one would imagine. Everything you have read about his intellectual capacity and relationships with very important people became fully animated as he captivated the room with story after story. With all this, the question that struck me was, this is all so big, what about the little things?

Check out the video of William McDonough of MBDC Talking about Bark House Shingles on the streets of Charlotte.

We hope you will share this with your acquaintances too!

Solar Decathlon Highlights

From September 23rd to October 2nd, Washington D.C.’s monuments to presidential greats and   civic leaders, museums of art and history, and houses of government were juxtaposed with houses of another breed: the green and technologically-advanced. Once every two years since 2002, teams of students from all across the United States (and now all across the globe) congregate on the National Mall in a Department of Energy-sponsored competition to design and build energy-efficient, solar-powered homes. This year, in the Solar Decathlon’s 5th competition, 20 teams from five countries presented their designs, which ranged from SCI-Arc and Caltech’s highly conceptual “outsulated” CHIP house, to Appalachian State’s Solar Homestead influenced by vernacular typologies, to the University of Maryland’s WaterShed whose micro-wetland helps reduce water pollution. I toured the homes this weekend and share a few of my favorite designs.

 

 

An aerial view of Potomac Park where the 2011 Solar Decathlon was held. Photo by: Stefano Paltera/U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon.

 

 

 

 Inspired by traditional Appalachian settlements, Solar Homestead by Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, won the People’s Choice award and was my favorite design, too. Each element of the design, from the furniture, to the Trombe wall, to the bifacial solar panels, to the staggered stud construction were incredibly well thought out. But what set this design apart is its reproducibility factor: as high-tech as the design sounds nearly all of its materials are available at Lowes stores (the school’s sponsor) and are accessible to builders all across the country.Photo courtesy of the DOE.

Along the large porch/breezeway are bifacial solar panels (and a few Bertoia chairs). The panels collect direct sunlight from above and reflected light from below to increase the amount of energy created, which compensates for the flatness of the roof (not the optimal angle for typical solar panels). “One concern people have about solar panels is that they often look like an afterthought,” says David Lee, one of the students who designed and built the home. Here they’re integrated with the overall design and don’t stick out like a sore thumb.Photo courtesy of the DOE.

 

 

 

The home consists of one main building and three outbuildings that can be configured in many different ways. This outbuilding clad in poplar bark is an office. The poplar bark shingles are maintenance-free for up to 80 years and are a Cradle to Cradle gold certified material.Photo by Diana Budds.

 

 

 

Rep. Frye and Sen. Queen Instrumental in New Jobs for Spruce Pine

Spruce Pine – Through the efforts of the local state legislative delegation, the Town of Spruce Pine will soon see ten new jobs in downtown along with the complete renovation and redesign of the

HOUZZ Spotlights Home with Bark House® Siding

Designer team Brent and Autumn Simmons Farm House embraces nature, versatility, history… and creates perfect balance in design.

” They wanted to bring the sustainability techniques they’d learned in school to the community they loved, while celebrating the historic style of this pastoral mountain region. After opening their own design-build firm, they built this modern rustic cabin for themselves, keeping in mind they would be selling it a few years down the road. “This house was an experiment in creating the best of both worlds: mountain rustic and minimalist modern,” says Autumn Simmons. Take a closer look and see if this style mashup calls to you, too.”

Brent and Autumn have been friends, colleagues and clients for years.  Congratulations on a job well done!

William McDonough Talks About Bark House Shingles

Watch and listen as William McDonough, of Cradle to Cradle talks about Highland Craftsmen bark shingles. McDonough Lecture in Charlottevideo  player

Bark House – The Leader in Rustic Indigenous Building Products

Bark houses originated as dwellings for indigenous peoples.  Certain barks peel easily from trees during different seasons. Because complicated milling equipment was not necessary and bark was known as the protection for the tree, it was an easy transition to use the material for personal and family shelter.  It made sense.

In 1895, bark houses became more refined when society architect Henry Bacon created the first squared edge bark shingle from the American Chestnut Tree for an exclusive community in Linville, North Carolina. An architect known for his ability to find the perfect solution to any problem, he is the designer of the world famous Lincoln Memorial.  After the chestnut tree blight, no one used bark for houses for 50 years.

Bark House has its roots in natural building. Today, Bark House® is a leader in the shift toward sustainable or wholistic building technology.  Created from natural materials, it encompasses a diminished impact on the earth and biodegrades cleanly at the end of the lifecycle, creating a cradle to cradle model. Highland Craftsmen Inc has made authentic living, Simple!

Highland Craftsmen Makes B Corp Top 10 List

Congratulations to the Top 10% for Overall Impact. The B Corp Best for the World List recognizes those companies creating the most positive overall social and environmental impact.

Bloomberg Businessweek

Small Business

Social Enterprise

Finding the World’s ‘Best’ Social Entrepreneurs

By John Tozzi

April 17, 2013

With Eco-Friendly Building Supplies, Green Depot Thrives in the Construction Rebound

Rigging Libor, bribing governments, running sweatshops: Corporations’ worst behavior is often the most visible. B Lab, a small Berwyn (Pa.) nonprofit, is trying to highlight the opposite stories: businesses that act responsibly, treat their workers well, and do good things for the environment and their communities.

Since 2007, B Lab has certified as “B Corps” more than 700 companies trying to balance their social missions with making profits. Its process involves documenting the company’s beneficial impact (and the company paying a fee to B Lab of $500 to $25,000 a year, depending on revenue). Most B Corps are relatively unknown small or midsize companies. A handful, like Patagonia and Warby Parker, are bigger brands.

B Lab has also been instrumental in getting 12 states, including California and New York, to recognize new legal structures that give company directors legal cover to consider social and environmental goals instead of just financial returns. Twenty more states, including Delaware, are considering similar legislation.

Today, B Lab is releasing its second annual list of companies that score in the top 10 percent on its assessments, what it calls the “Best for the World” list. How did the 67 companies get there? There’s no single formula. Many paid workers generously and gave them good benefits. A lot of them have business models intended to create broad public benefits, like providing services to the poor or elderly, or promoting clean energy. Nearly one-third of the companies on this year’s list came from outside the U.S. More than half of them have been certified as B Corps just in the last year. I spoke with B Lab co-founder Jay Coen Gilbert about the list. Edited excerpts follow.

Why put together a list of “best” companies?
Business is the most important man-made force in the world, and our biggest social and environmental challenges are too big to be solved by governments or nonprofits alone. The list tells us which businesses are creating the most value for the world.

Is it challenging to compare companies in different industries and countries? How do you compare companies making sustainable clothing in the U.S. with a telecom provider in Afghanistan?
The B Corp movement is in the early stages of going global. No question, comparability is difficult the broader you get. Since capital flows globally and often across sectors, there’s a need to do the best we can to provide a comparable set of metrics that can look at a core function of a company. Every company has employees, every company operates in the local community, every company has an environmental footprint.

What practices helped companies get included on the list?
In order to be that high a performer, you’re going to have to be operating pretty well on all cylinders. They’re typically not only excelling in one area, just employee practices or environmental practices. They’re bringing that same intention to create shared value for all of their stakeholders.

What’s the challenge ahead for the B Corp movement?
The biggest challenge: It takes real effort to earn this certification. This isn’t “pay a fee and get a seal of approval.” All of these companies have also made legal changes to their governing documents. That’s the attribute that makes these companies built to last. Companies that do that are the ones that make [the mission] more than a nifty mission statement pinned on the wall. The biggest challenge for B Lab is how to grow the community exponentially as opposed to arithmetically.

For profiles of a few of the standout companies on B Lab’s list, click here.

Tozzi is a reporter for Bloomberg Businessweek in New York.

Bark House Shingles® Featured on UVA’s Winning EcoMod.

The University of Virginia is redefining the notion of high-performance, modular housing, beginning in the neighborhoods that need it most.

EcoMod recently completed two prefab houses in South Boston, Va. Sited side-by-side, the structures look nearly identical, but the one on the left is designed to Passive House standards—a challenge given the area’s hot, muggy summers and cold winters—while the other serves as a control house against which to compare building performance. Both use materials rated with the team’s system of radial charts that quantify key project goals.

The houses feature NichiProducts fiber board plank siding by Nichiha and poplar bark siding by Highland Craftsmen.

Read entire article

 

Chris McCurry – A Top 10 Bee

Showcasing 10 B Corp certified companies led or founded by womenSome business ventures that want to demonstrate their commitment to social and environmental issues will take the step of getting certified as a B Corporation. These companies are certified by the U.S. not-for-profit B Lab as having met higher standards of social and environmental performance, accountability and transparency.

click link for entire article

Authentically American Made

WATCH THE LATEST VIDEOvideo  player

B The Change

Honor Among Business Owners: These B Corps Are Building a New Code for Corporate America

BY CATHERINE CLIFFORD | March 19, 2014|

Bthechange

There’s a whole new generation of entrepreneurs who are raising the bar on what it means to be socially conscious.

Wayne, Pa.-based B Lab is a non-profit organization that has created a framework against which companies can measure and track their social responsibility. B Lab ranks companies on their treatment of workers, contribution to the community and impact on the environment.

While B Lab offers companies a free online assessment tool, it also offers verified certification for a fee. Companies that get certified are called benefit corporations, or B Corps. A company that legally registers as a B Corp establishes itself as both a “for profit” and “for good” company. A B Corp cannot be sued by stakeholders for making decisions that put its mission above profit.

In 20 states across the U.S., B Corp status has become a legal entity, akin to C Corp. or S Corp. There are currently almost 1,000 B Corps in 32 countries and across 60 industries. More than 16,000 businesses have used B Lab’s free online assessment tool to measure their progress independently.

Each year, B Lab releases a list of the Certified B Corps that scored in the top 10 percent on its social-impact assessment. In the small business category, which is defined as having between 10 and 49 employees, there were 26 businesses honorees this year.

Here’s our list of favorites. (For the full list of 92 businesses, see B Lab’s website.)

1. Channel Islands Outfitters Based in: Santa Barbara, Calif.

What it does: paddle sports outfitter and fitness center.

Highlights: Channel Islands Outfitters (CIO) is an employee owned and operated company and the staff of adventurers lead kayaking trips, sea cave explorations, hiking and backpacking expeditions in the area.

2. Highland Craftsmen, Inc Based in: Spruce Pine, N.C.

What it does: Makes and sells architectural products for building, design and furniture professional companies and individuals. One of their most well-known products is a home-siding shingle that is made out of a waste product of the logging industry.

Highlights: More than 50 percent of the energy used at corporate facilities comes from renewable sources and more than a third of employees participate in professional development programs. Also, Highland Craftsmen keeps money in the community by ensuring that almost two-thirds of its expenditures are reinvested into local suppliers.

Read entire article

Newsletter 1st Qtr 2014

First Quarter 2014 Newsletter From Highland Craftsmen’s Bark House

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Newsletter 2nd Qtr 2014

2nd Quarter 2014 Newsletter From Highland Craftsmen’s Bark House

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R-Values for Bark

RVALUES

Special University Edition

Special University Edition

Spotlight on the Bark House Team

Spotlight On Bark House Employees

Astounding Lake Union Bark Boat House is feature for HOUZZ

If the unusual siding doesn’t clue you in to the fine craftsmanship in this floating home, the handmade handrails, lights and furniture will

, Houzz Contributor.

When you first lay eyes on this floating house, you may think it’s the secret lair of some fantastic villain in a James Bond film. But builder Bob Little assures me that the couple who commissioned it as their Seattle pied-à-terre couldn’t be nicer. Bark and portholes, sapele and bronze, a planted roof and massive stone-covered walls are just a few of the amazing features of this floating home on Seattle’s Lake Union.

Wood summons our inner builder and reaches new heights, proclaims Architizer magazine

Newsletter 3rd Qtr 2014

Read our third quarter newsletter

Meet 7 Entrepreneurs Who Determine What’s Cool for the Rest of Us…

The world of business seems to be spinning faster and faster these days. Grab on as we introduce you to 7 entrepreneurial innovators who are pushing the boundaries of their industries.

entrepreneurs-whats-cool-dahl-open-forum-embed-marty-chris-mccurry-01

When Chris and Marty McCurry first started Highland Craftsmen back in 1990, few people were talking about sustainability. But the company the husband and wife team started in the small mountain town of Spruce Pine, North Carolina, continues to transform the very nature of how everyone from architects to builders and even lumberjacks think about their trade.

The McCurrys’ business, often referred to as Bark House, creates sustainable building products out of natural materials. Their products, which include everything from premium shingles to furniture and wall-coverings, are made from such materials as the bark from poplar trees, which is dried in a kiln and then used to create stylish furnishings that appear everywhere from residential homes to multistory commercial office buildings throughout the United States and Japan.

Read more…

If the link doesn’t work, view the pdf here

BARK2 Survey

The BARK2 creates maximum flexibility in organic design and ease of application through the use of 2′x2′ square units and up to 4′x12′s that are easily configured and applied as wall coverings.  The product surface treatments such as bark, twigs and poles vary in color, texture and function, thus creating exponential design possibilities.

You can check out the wide array of Bark Squares that are available by clicking here.  The BARK2 can be further customized to your particular color pallet with the addition of paint or stain.

Your vote will determine which BARK SQUARE wall system is installed at the newly opened Spoon Bar. This is the sister-venue to the award-winning Knife & Fork restaurant in Spruce Pine, North Carolina. What better place to unveil our new wall system than at an eclectic bar that epitomizes individuality and creativity?  Take the survey

BARK2 Panels

2x2 Panels