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Bark House Shingles First to Earn Cradle to Cradle Platinum Certification

Tags: cradle to cradle certified (6) , certification (6) , built environment (610)

For the first time since the creation of the Cradle to Cradle CertifiedTM Products Program, a product—Highland Craftsmen Inc.® Bark House® poplar shingle—has achieved Platinum-level certification. This highly commendable feat required the product meet Platinum requirements across all five Cradle to Cradle certification categories: material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness.

One of the most rigorous and trusted product certification programs in the world, the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard provides designers and manufacturers with criteria and requirements for continually improving what products are made of and how they are made. Designers, building professionals, and consumers who select Cradle to Cradle Certified products are receiving a third-party, multi-attribute verification that the materials in the products and the way they are made will create a safer and healthier built environment. Certified products are rated as Basic, Bronze, Silver, Gold, or Platinum based on audits across the five evaluation categories; of the more than 425 certifications covering more than 5,000 Cradle to Cradle Certified products, Bark House is the first to reach Platinum.

Bark House poplar shingle siding is made from reclaimed tree bark, with artisan craftsmanship transforming what was once a waste material into elegant, handcrafted wallcovering for exteriors and interiors. A biological nutrient at its outset, nothing is added to the material, and it is fully recyclable at the end of its life.

Along with the material’s innate sustainability, Bark House has dedicated itself to creating a viable supply chain and expanding its positive impact to other businesses in North Carolina by training loggers in the proper procurement and handling of RAWTM (Recycled Appalachian Wood Waste) poplar bark. Though the work of peeling back bark is hard, it’s also environmentally sound and economically worthwhile—increasing the income of loggers fourfold for a single tree.

“Bark House’s approach to sustainability is certainly rooted in its naturally derived product line, but the company has gone much beyond that, embracing a holistic approach that is the essence of Cradle to Cradle’s own philosophies,” said Stacy Glass, Vice President, Built Environment for the Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute. “Achieving an overall Platinum certification requires achieving top marks in all five categories, an accomplishment that truly demonstrates the depth and commitment of the company’s efforts to provide safe products that can be perpetually cycled and are manufactured in ways that respect humans and the environment.”

Bark House first got involved with Cradle to Cradle in 2008 when it began working with MBDC, drawn to the holistic approach, the approachable language, and third-party verification. Previously, Bark House siding carried Cradle to Cradle Certification at the Gold level certified under v2.1 of the standard. To reach Platinum under v3.1 of the standard, now administered by the non-profit Cradle to Cradle Products Innovation Institute, the company refined its processes and metrics in alignment with Cradle to Cradle’s standards that encourage continuous improvement across all five categories.

“At Bark House, we have always taken a holistic approach to business, from the low impact of our product lines to the high impact of our social outreach. This mentality is key to creating balance, and without balance, systems will ultimately fail,” said Chris McCurry, co-founder for The Bark House at Highland Craftsmen Inc. “This line of thinking is what drew us to the Cradle to Cradle methodology. With its multi-tiered system under five categories, Cradle to Cradle offers a balanced framework across people, planet, and prosperity that allows a business to measure its progress and plan for improvements. The achievement of Platinum across each evaluation area further showcases the holistic, regenerative nature of our work.”

Bark House poplar shingles come in standard-grade shingles or in thicker, premium grade with deep furrows and more pronounced shadow lines. Sanded interior-grade shingles also are available.

In achieving Cradle to Cradle Platinum, Bark House is the first to meet the program’s most stringent requirements across material health, material reutilization, renewable energy and carbon management, water stewardship, and social fairness. For an overview of the requirements at each level, click here.  

Here are just a few of the ways Bark House excels within the five Cradle to Cradle certification categories:  

• Material Health: Bark House Poplar Shingles and Wall Coverings are 100% natural and pass California Air Quality VOC Standards. No chemical protectants or additives are used in the manufacturing process nor are required for the life of the product—up to 80 years for exteriors. 

• Material Reuse: Bark House Poplar Shingles and Wall Coverings are a reclaimed logging industry waste material—Recycled Appalachian Wood Waste (RAW™). Every tree has a disposition, such as saw mills for furniture substrates, plywood, and laminates; trees are not cut for the purpose of harvesting bark. 

• Water Stewardship: No water is used in manufacturing. In addition, the company participates in water stewardship initiatives including the Toe River Valley Coalition, stream bank restoration, and stream protection initiatives.

• Clean Energy and Carbon Management: One hundred percent of the electricity used in the manufacturing of Bark House Poplar Shingles and Wall Coverings is generated on site with renewable solar power. Ninety percent of raw materials are sourced within 50 miles and 100% within 500 miles. Bark House manufacturing methods are clean and rely heavily on fine hand-crafting. CO2 emissions generated throughout the entire poplar bark supply chain and on-site manufacturing are offset because bark locks in carbon. What’s more, vendors are made up of small crews, which have a lighter impact in the forest as researched by the Land Conservation Foundation in Virginia. Crews log small tracts—usually no greater than 10 acres in any given area. The process of harvesting the material is largely performed with human energy. 

• Social Fairness: The Bark House at Highland Craftsmen Inc. is a B Corp-Certified (since 2008), "Best for the World"-Awarded company, having passed a rigorous third-party audit. In addition to an environmental segment, B-Corp measures Community Involvement and Optimal Working Conditions for Employees, Vendors and Contractors. Bark House’s work is in keeping with Appalachian culture of quality in craftsmanship and materials from source to shipping; a strong sense of independence; love of nature; sharing with workers, colleagues and community; appreciation of hard work. Additionally, the work employs bridging and a focus on building whole communities.

For more information on Bark House shingles, visit www.barkhouse.com. For more information on the Cradle to Cradle Certified Product Standard and Material Health Certificate, visit www.c2ccertified.org.