Nestled on the banks of the South River in Waynesboro, Va., a small town about 100 miles northwest of Richmond, the Augusta Lumber factory seems nondescript from the outside. A visitor could easily pass by the several large buildings without paying a second glance.

Nevertheless, according to Todd Carr, vp of Augusta Lumber, there is good reason to sit up and take notice of what’s inside the plant.

Carr notes that the 52-year-old company, which began producing flooring in the early ‘90s, has a long held commitment to environmentally responsible manufacturing.  Sawdust and chips from the milling process, for example, are used to produce power and heat for the entire factory. Additionally, the company relies on a readily available naturally resource – the South River – to create the steam pressure needed to drive the factory’s turbines.

“Most people look at a factory and see it as a net user of natural resources and potentially a polluter,” Carr says. “But in the case of the river, we’re efficiently using a renewable resource. And we use our refuse to help drive down oil and electricity costs. It is without argument that we are engaged in a renewable cycle here.”

Best of all, he says, there’s little danger of running out of water. “It’s the lifecycle of steam. It goes into the atmosphere, condenses, and comes back down as rain into the river.”