Trendy new color for furniture: Green

Julie Sherwood

Furniture-makers are discovering that consumers want something in addition to high-quality items: proof that the wood in the furniture is green-certified.

“Customers are asking for it,” said Christine Cooney, project manager of Lake Country Woodworkers, a Naples, N.Y., company that makes high-end office furniture.

The green-certified designation means the timber came from forests managed under the strictest guidelines for cutting and planting, pest control, promoting diversified habitat and soil and water protection.

“Sustainability” is the catchword for those practices that promote a healthy forest, and it is catching on with consumers, Cooney said.

Green certification is not only a validation of management practices but a distinction valued in the marketplace, somewhat akin to the organic label on grocery products, stated Pete Grannis, commissioner for the New York Department of Environmental Conservation.

The DEC announced this month New York’s forests have regained their status as green-certified, an international standard awarded to only 10 percent of the world’s forests. In the United States, those include state forests in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Indiana.

The auditors that determine green certification are nonprofit organizations that establish forest certification standards nationwide, such as the Forest Stewardship Council. The groups look for success in protecting mature forests, limiting the effect of invasive plants and insects, identifying and protecting imperiled species and using easements to conserve working forests.

“Interest in certified products has been growing, and there are now roughly 80 green-certified paper or wood-based businesses in the state, ranging from paper mills to printers to floor suppliers,” Grannis said of New York.

Clay Miller, who works at his family’s R.A. Miller Hardwood Co. in Buffalo, N.Y., said the company is weighing whether to become a supplier of green-certified wood.

Miller said for its product to have the certification, it must not only come from the forests holding the green certification, but the timber must also be handled and transported according to green guidelines.

“There can’t be any break in the certifications chain,” he said.

The green-certified wood is the rage out West, Miller said. As for the East, people so far are thinking more about cost than green, he said. Generally, the green-certified lumber is more expensive.   

Scott Graham, co-owner of Future Forest Consulting Inc. in Naples, a forest-management service, said it’s hard to predict what the certification will mean economically. But it will ensure the forests are treated with utmost care, he said, which includes the finest erosion control and seeding and marking of trees to “take out the bad and promote the good.”

“It’s like weeding a garden,” said Graham, whose consulting work covers 50,000 acres of property throughout Upstate New York.

“Forests that are healthy and vigorous are a benefit to society and the environment,” Graham said.

Contact Daily Messenger writer Julie Sherwood at (585) 394-0770, Ext. 263, or at