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A passion for the environment and an unwavering commitment to sustainability has always been pivotal to designing our outdoor furniture, ensuring that we create pieces that last and never go out of style, leaving a legacy which will pass through generations. But what actually makes our outdoor furniture design sustainable? We ask Simon Burvill to discuss this commonly used phrase to get to the bottom of its meaning.

 

 

Reedback Tree Seat

WHY IS SUSTAINABILITY IMPORTANT TO YOU AND GAZE BURVILL?

SB: Sustainability and consideration for the environment are personally very important to me, so it was only natural that it was one of the founding principles of Gaze Burvill. 

I believe that good design and sustainability should be two halves of the whole, and together provide the antidote to the throw-away society we live in and the environmental issues we so often see. I take great pride in the furniture we create, starting with a beautiful and precious wood that has been carefully nurtured for 120 to 150 years, which is transformed it into treasured pieces that delight people for many years, often with an element of surprise – a design detail to enhance comfort, perhaps, or a practical innovation.

SUSTAINABILITY DEPENDS A LOT ON THE CHOICE OF MATERIALS, HOW DO YOU ENSURE YOU HAVE A ‘GREEN’ SUPPLY CHAIN?

SB: I believe it’s incredibly important to know the provenance of your materials and to have confidence that they come from a sustainably managed source.

Our oak is grown and imported from forests in France so we know exactly where all our timber has come from. I have a long-standing relationship with many of our timber suppliers and have been to France to visit the forests where it’s grown on a number of occasions to see first hand the work that goes into creating a sustainable productive woodland.

We take great care to ensure that all our timber suppliers are PEFC or FSC certified; these are often considered the ‘gold standard’ designation for wood harvested from forests that are responsibly managed, socially beneficial, environmentally conscious, and economically viable. They also help to empower our customers to choose sustainably sourced products, rewarding forest owners and incentivising others to become more sustainable.

WHAT STEPS HAVE YOU TAKEN TO MAKE THE WORKPLACE SUSTAINABLE?

SB: Sustainably sound manufacturing processes are at the heart of everything we do here at Gaze Burvill. We are always looking for new ways in which we can benefit the environment, some of the areas we consider most important are: 

Biomass boiler – Not wasting excess wood has always been a priority for the business. Our Biomass boiler provides a sustainable heat source making use of the waste wood and dust from the manufacturing process. The energy generated by the boiler provides heating across the workshops, offices, display area and two cottages. As a carbon neutral energy source this benefits the environment and returns considerable savings in fuel costs and waste disposal.

Solar Power –  In 2016, PV array (solar panels) were installed on our workshop roof, reducing our consumption of non-renewable energy whilst shifting energy use towards renewable sources. The panels generate 44Kw of power directly into the workshop with any surplus being fed back into the National Grid. This power is also used to charge the electric car we use as a company vehicle.

Recycling – Reducing and recycling our waste is one of the simplest and most effective ways to be a sustainable business. We take great care to ensure that we recycle any waste paper, packaging and plastics used in the offices and workshops. We have also made sure that there is no plastic packaging or waste when shipping our products.

Water Usage – Where possible we reuse water and ensure that we minimise our water usage across the business. This not only benefits the environment but also helps us to save money in the long run.

Sotterley Woods

WHAT ROLE DOES LONGEVITY PLAY IN SUSTAINABLE DESIGN?

SB: I am a firm believer that good design and longevity go hand in hand and that creating a piece which can be passed down generations is a great way to become more sustainable. Quite often, cheap or lower quality products last no more than a few years and lead to excess waste and pollution.  

Designing oak outdoor furniture that lasts requires a deep understanding for the behaviour of the wood and the necessity of the wood to adapt to a changing external environment whilst maintaining its integrity and durability.

One of the advantages of choosing oak is that when it is left to gently weather outdoors, it gains a beautiful silver patina as it ages through the years. Naturally, our furniture does require a light maintenance regime in order to maintain its longevity, additionally, we offer an aftercare service which ensures that our customers can enjoy their furniture for years to come.

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