Designing a Business – Inspired By Nature Part 3

Water Stewardship

No water is used in the manufacturing of Bark House® Poplar Bark Shingles and Wall Coverings.  This is a big deal given that the Industry sector uses 5% of US fresh-water according to the EPA and the manufacturing of wood is a major part of that.

The US Department of Interior Geological Survey website states:  “The industries that produce metals, wood and paper products, chemicals, gasoline and oils…are major users of water. Probably every manufactured product uses water during some part of the production process. Industrial water use includes water used for such purposes as fabricating, processing, washing, diluting, cooling, or transporting a product; incorporating water into a product; or for sanitation needs within the manufacturing facility. Some industries that use large amounts of water produce such commodities as food, paper, chemicals, refined petroleum, or primary metals.”

Our manufacturing facility as a whole uses less water than our local barber shop (Spruce Pine population = less than 2,200).  There is a water collection system that holds run-off rain water for use in cleaning.  Vehicles are washed at the carwash that reuses 10% greywater.  The facility falls within the Nolichucky Watershed and the Town of Spruce Pine has a surplus of water.  It’s waste management system underperforms related to lack of refuse.  In short, we are in an area where the supply of water is not a pressing issue.

However, I recall as a child thinking that “river” meant large brown stream because the Toe River was used by the local industry as a means to manage manufacturing waste.  So, we have never taken water for granted.  In that vein, we participate in the Toe River Watershed Partnership.  The Mission is to work “with local, regional, state and national partners for the sake of our region’s precious waterways and for the future of the communities that depend on them.  The Goal is “to create solutions that will help the local economy grow without compromising one of our most important assets – our natural resources.”  This organization does river float clean-ups, has built well designed river accesses, provides education on the endangered species in our watershed and other important water stewardship work.


Driving through California to the National Parks, we saw ample evidence of water shortages.  From “No Water – No Food” signs along the massive Agricultural tracts to water not being served in restaurants unless requested – the urgency about water conservation permeates all levels of life.  This was also evident as we viewed the Colorado River (which supplies over 30 million people) through many states on our trip.  I witnessed the scarcity of water many years ago visiting Uganda and contemplated the consequences.  Water scarcity and clean water, as well as access to water, are not the issues of another country or another state.  It is our issue.

Since 1990, The Bark House® has been changing the nature of buildings.

Impacts: People- Planet- Prosperity


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