Green Awards 2013: John Kohler
The owner of Malvern's Chester County Bamboo seeks to make eco-friendly bamboo a usable, manageable resource for builders and homeowners on the Main Line.
Photo by Jared Castaldi
Chester County Bamboo in Malvern has chosen the path less traveled, embracing what its founder calls “the most misunderstood yet renewable resource available.” Bamboo is often overlooked and considered uncontrollable by homeowners, industry professionals and even townships. “Many people consider it an unwanted nuisance,” says Kohler.
Kohler is working to obtain enough space to recycle or reuse 100 percent of the bamboo his company manages and removes. “In the near future, we hope to produce a proprietary product that will completely change the way people look at bamboo in our local market,” he says.
In the five-county area, Chester County Bamboo maintains 50-plus acres of bamboo. Aside from a recent donation to a local school, Kohler worked with the University of Pennsylvania to provide a truckload of canes for a sukkah-building competition. The company’s bamboo management services help maintain natural habitats for birds and other small animals.
Bamboo promotes 35 percent more oxygen than any known plant and absorbs five times the carbon dioxide of an equivalent stand of trees. It’s quickly established and sustainably harvested every three to five years.
Ninety-nine percent of the available bamboo products are produced overseas. Even products assembled in the United States are made from imported raw bamboo material. “My dream is to break this cycle and begin growing and producing all of our bamboo products locally,” says Kohler.