Can a Gorgeous Award-Winning Japanese Wood Stove Be Called Green?

©. Agni Hutte

Wood stoves are a hot topic on TreeHugger; readers were incensed when we covered a very green house in the country that had one, and were not particularly happy with the post I wrote in response. So it is with some trepidation that we show this very interesting stove from Japan that just won a Japan Good Design Award.

stove front and sides

© AGNI Hutte via Designboom

The designer of the AGNI Hutte stove tells Designboom that “the use of wooden stoves is preferable to other gas heating equipment during earthquakes, typhoons, or other natural disasters.”

combustion image

© Agni Hutte

The AGNI Hutte has an extremely efficient catalytic system that promises “clean combustion” and has a catalytic filter. The google translation is awkward but says “with the latest combustion technology, is injected once again new air to bur the remaining particle and gas in the primary combustion, is a system that achieved a clean exhaust secondary combustion.” There is nothing in the catalogue or literature that says exactly how clean and efficient it is in terms of particulate emissions.

On the company website they note that 70 percent of Japan is covered with forests planted after the Second World War, and that the cedar and cypress has to be constantly thinned, so that wood in Japan is considered to be a sustainable and renewable resource.

door of stove

© AGNI Hutte via Designboom

It is also a really elegant looking stove, unlike the usual cutesy grandma styles that you see in North America. On the award site, the designers note that “wood stoves are needed in japan which can be disaster resistant and carbon neutral.” They say also that “Japan has a serious forest problem”.

So again we ask:

  • If the stove is really clean burning,
  • If there is lots of wood around that isn’t good for much else,
  • if the stove adds resilience in a country subject to many kinds of natural disasters,
  • If the alternative is imported gas or electricity made from dirty sources like coal,

can a wood stove be called green?