California Closet’s commitment to sustainable product and practices aligns with the Society’s mission to promote sustainable building design and positively impact lives. ASID asked California Closet’s resident expert and Manager of Product Information and Sustainability, Amy Kolnes, to elaborate on the company’s sustainable efforts to date.
Q. As an industry leading brand, why does California Closets prioritize sustainability?
A. At California Closets, I think we truly understand the importance of sustainability and our responsibility to the environment and to our clients. Sustainability is not something that is fleeting or a trend, but is a mainstay of our business, and for this reason we realize the need to be continuously mindful of our resources.
It is this commitment that has enabled us to work with a number of builders on various LEED® (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) projects. This includes two large-scale LEED certified projects in the San Francisco Bay Area, the Margarido House and the Hillside House.
It is also from this pledge that we are constantly looking at sourcing products that have sustainable attributes. Most recently, we rolled out a comprehensive line of LED lighting that offers an energy efficient option for illuminating a space.
Q. How would you describe the California Closets sustainable product options?
A. The beauty of our product is that it is made from composite wood, which consists of recycled and/or reclaimed wood fiber. Using recycled material assists in diverting waste from our landfill and helps to preserve our natural resources.
All of our board is CARB Phase 2 compliant. CARB (California Air Resource Board) is also the name commonly used to refer to the California law that consists of some of the most rigorous regulations for formaldehyde emissions standards today.
Although CARB regulations are specific to California, California Closets uses the standard for all board we sell throughout North America. CARB has two phases: 1 and 2. Phase 2 is the more stringent of the phases and is the current rating for our Classic, Lago, and Tesoro finishes.
We also offer an array of Ecoresin inserts which contain 40 percent pre-consumer recycled content. Some of the available patterns incorporate handcrafted materials from artisans in remote villages around the world, helping to bring more economic stability to these communities.
Additionally, we offer a variety of other products that have sustainable features, including LED lights, Chroma countertops, and a selection of fabric panels
made from recycled material.
Q. What are common misconceptions about sustainability?
A. For some, the word sustainability may conjure up thoughts of products that are not made well or are visually unappealing. However, products made with sustainable material are not only high-quality, they can also have a beautiful aesthetic.
Take for example our Fossil Leaf Ecoresin® insert which can be used for doors, drawers, or as a back panel. It is made from 40 percent recycled material, can be recycled through the supplier at the end of its life, and has been made using natural leaf accents. This product is durable and is a stunning combination of translucent resin with subtle hints of elements found in nature, creating an exquisite design.
Another misconception about sustainability is that these types of products are sold at a premium. Just because a product is made with sustainable materials or practices doesn’t necessary mean that it will be more expensive. As previously mentioned, our board is made from recycled material, so without any additional investment, our clients are purchasing a product that already has sustainable characteristics.
Q. How does California Closets continue to educate its employees about its environmental commitment?
A. We offer a number of training resources for our employees to keep apprised of our commitment to the environment and to have a better understanding
of the relevant terminology and sustainable characteristics of our product offerings. These resources include an extensive library of documents, videos, and
interactive educational materials.
We have recently implemented an entire learning module that is specifically focused on sustainability. This course is available to all employees and is a mandatory course for our corporate team members.
Additionally, we have a LEED GA on staff who is available to answer any questions that may arise as they relate to the specific sustainable attributes of our products.
Q. Is California Closets still looking for ways to minimize its carbon footprint in the future?
A. One of the advantages of working with a wood product such as ours is that trees are nature’s way of assisting in lessening the impact of climate change. Trees use CO2 during photosynthesis and the carbon that is produced is stored, while the oxygen created is released as a by-product. The sequestered carbon is stored until the wood is broken down at the end of its life cycle.
Also, by using products like LED lighting in lieu of less efficient incandescent and CFL lighting, we help to further reduce our energy use and carbon footprint especially when electricity is produced by coal or gas.