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The Industrial Revolution made life for us richer and gave us opportunities
we could never have experiencedif it had never happened.
Without industrialization, most of us would still be working
10-12 hours a day just to survive.
On the other hand, most of us are now aware that the Industrial
Revolution and industry in general have done some very bad
things to our planet. This awareness came to the forefront in
the '60s but faded into the background in the decades that
followed. Well, now it's back and it's becoming mainstream.
We're realizing that we can't keep doing what we've been
doing and expect our planet to absorb the abuse indefinitely.
As woodworkers, this awareness presents both challenges and
The challenge is that we need to educate ourselves on what we
should be doing to help preserve our own health and the health of our
planet. Once we see what changes we need to make, we need to figure out how to achieve them. Some things are simple to change. For example, we can buy sheet material that has no added urea formaldehyde (NAUF). It's not hard to find nowadays and not much more expensive than the standard product.
Other changes are not so simple. One of the most challenging changes must occur in the finishing department. The conventional finishes used in woodworking are the biggest cause of pollution in most woodworking operations. The solvents in these finishes contain high levels of Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). VOCs are one of the biggest concerns to environmentalists today. Changing to products with significantly lower levels of VOCs is not an easy task, however. Waterborne finishes, the best choice, behave differently than their conventional counterparts. Dozens, if not hundreds, of new products have hit the market since this green movement began building steam. However, the technology necessary to formulate successful products has lagged behind. Many products, even from reputable companies, have poor working qualities, aesthetics, and durability. Finding the right products for the right job is no easy task. Even when we find the right ones, new techniques need to be learned to apply them correctly.
But along with challenges come rewards. The woodworker who adopts green practices will gain new opportunities. If your company bids on LEED® jobs, you have a better chance of getting the job if you understand how you, the woodworker, can contribute. Even if you don't bid on LEED jobs, your potential customers are becoming more and more aware of what it means to be green and will more likely purchase products from your company if they see that you're concerned about their health and the health of the environment.
Make sure you become genuinely green, however. Potential customers are also becoming aware of "green washing". That is, the tendency for companies to present themselves as green companies but in reality are not doing the right thing.
At Howell Consulting Services, we've helped companies gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become truly green. One of our consultants is a LEED® Accredited Professional and can show you exactly how you can help on a LEED project. Once your company becomes known as one who understands LEED, you are in a good position to win bids on LEED jobs.
Our associates include renowned authorities on the safety of chemicals for industry. To be truly green, you must be sure that you're using the safest and most environmentally responsible products available. At the same time, these products have to perform well. They must be efficiently workable in the shop and in the field. They must look good and be durable once they're installed. Your reputation is on the line with every job.
We understand this, as we've been in the heart of the woodworking industry for over 35 years. Our consultants have worked for many years on the shop floor, in drafting and engineering, and in top management. Our goal is for you to accomplish the changes necessary to make your company a truly green company in the most effective manner possible; and with as little disruption to production as possible. Our services include specialized training for workers so they can become part of the team that helps transform your company.
One specialized area that requires the most specific training is the finishing department. We help you find the right green finishing products for your specific application. We also provide training services for finishers, helping them work efficiently with waterborne finishes.