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Green Lumber?

Green Lumber?

Eco-friendly lumber is nothing new. Many environmental groups have been pushing sustainably logged wood for years, and even the UN has been urging countries to create sustainable forestry jobs. Not only will it save the environment, but it will also create a million new jobs and greatly help the development of countries like China and India [Source: CNN]. However, some logging companies are looking to decrease their carbon footprint even more nd find ways that they don’t have to cut down any new growth.

Logging companies like TerraMia and Will Branch Antique Lumber offer only reclaimed lumber to their clients. Reclaimed lumber is wood harvested from old houses/buildings that are then reused to create new buildings, floorings or furniture. Many companies turned to reclaimed wood since much of the lumber created in the past came from old-growth trees and are therefore hardier/sturdier than the lumber today. Of course, reusing wood is eco-friendly as loggers do not have to cut down new trees to create lumber [Source: Pieces Zine]. The growing popularity of reclaimed lumber isn’t just because of environmental reasons, it also creates a very unique feel. Since each piece of lumber is aged differently and from a different source, no two are alike. It’s great for people looking to stand out from the crowd. Unfortunately, reclaimed wood is not always cost-effective and ends up costing people more than regular lumber. Collection of lumber from an old building is a labor-intensive process and requires attention to detail in order to get the best quality lumber (without scratches, dents or nails) [Source: Reclaimed Lumber].

There are other companies that collect dead growth or wind-toppled trees in order to create lumber. Because no new trees are killed, many companies view this as more environmentally-friendly than regular lumber, however environmentalists such as Andrew Cowan state that the decaying trees create a new ecosystem. These “special habitats” also contribute to the natural cycle of their environment [Source: Decaying Wood: Recycling Within Arboreal Ecosystems].

With these sustainable practices, we can still have lovely wood flooring and furniture and still save the environment. More and more logging companies are looking to a more eco-friendly approach to lumber.

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homerenovations.com
Jasmine Greene

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13 comments

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8:57AM PDT on Aug 6, 2009

Thanks for bringing up the topic. Like others have said, reduce, reuse and recycle. At the same time, it is really sad to constantly bring the new growing economies into the equation. Although they are doing damage to the environment, the footprint of India is for example far below that of the US.
Promoting the use of Bamboo for everything will only promote "Monocultures" which are also dangerous to the local environment, food crops, employment and other issues. China is already shipping out a lot of bamboo products to many nations around the world. Can you just imagine what this amounts to in quantities consumed daily?
Then there are countries like Canada that are heavily involved in deforestation of their timber to the same extent as Brazil and others. Along with forest fires that consume a lot of the forest, the extensive use of lumber is leading Canada to be a forest-less land very fast.
Let's wake up and save our planet, whether it be in India or Canada or Brazil.
Stop deforestation, stop mono-cultures, stop the habitat-loss for animals, stop the torture and elimination of innocent species.

2:07PM PDT on Jul 31, 2009

I also whole-heartedly agree with pamela k.

12:07PM PDT on Jul 18, 2009

That and many other things we do to help Mother Earth but we are about the only people that do that on our block and that is so sad.

11:45AM PDT on Jul 18, 2009

Reuse of lumber is a very good idea.Still better is afforestation in countries like China,India and Indonesia.Fast growing trees such as
bamboos,soft wood trees can be cultivated by the most populous
nations.Natural disasters can be prevented by afforestation to a great extent. Saju George.

12:34PM PDT on Jul 16, 2009

Again, the greenest building is the one already built, no matter how much bamboo or compressed sunflower seed paneling you use in a new one. Pamela K's right about taking a closer look at what's best for your situation. I'm not saying people can't build new buildings or renovate, but at least examine the options. I just left a discussion about sustainable design and wasn't the only person in the audience to ask how "green" it was to demolish a perfectly usable building and haul most of the parts off to a landfill before putting up a fancy new LEED-certified one (yes, it's happened). This is a useful tool: http://www.thegreenestbuilding.org/

Also, while I'm disgusted at the rate of demolition in the Cleveland area, you might as well make the best of a bad situation. for those in NE OH seeking reclaimed wood--not only good quality, being mostly old-growth, but keeping usable material out of the landfill--I believe APOC (A Piece of Cleveland) is one option you may want to examine.

8:55AM PDT on Jul 16, 2009

Re-using wood and other salvagable items is a great way to prevent more material from going into landfills. Also, be aware that pressure treated wood may contain toxic chemicals. Even the newer stuff has warnings.

8:51AM PDT on Jul 16, 2009

Don't forget that there are many alternatives to wood (as a housing material). Strawbale homes, adobe, even dirt (place in specially constructed tubes or sand bags and stacked; then plastered over using clay and lime) all have their advantages in the right climate. Not only that, but they are completely sustainable and generally also reduse or eliminate the need for toxic or harmful insulation as well.

8:43AM PDT on Jul 16, 2009

Thank you for sharing your knowledge!

8:28AM PDT on Jul 16, 2009

Reclaimed wood is that from a source which has been torn down but still in good shape, and instead of throwing it in a landfill, is reused instead. Bamboo's a great source, except it's starting to be overharvested (which can become a HUGE problem), the glues and processing (depending on the company) might not be very eco-friendly, & it can be a worse environmental option depending on how far away it has to travel etc. Same with hemp, it's not grown in this country. I was pissed at Obama for, not only denying that, but making druggie comments about those of us who wanted those laws changed (including the likes of me, who CAN'T STAND to smoke pot). And then there's some great companies in our own country/state, that provide jobs to enrich the community, do as much green stuff as they can, but are local hardwood. Yet their practices overall keep them from leaving a footprint. Who'd know about them unless we researched? Pamela's right in that we have to look at what's best for our area and act accordingly to what we can do there. Anything can be overdone. Especially when we're overproducing like mad and we don't have enough resources to maintain what we've got if it continues on like that.

8:25AM PDT on Jul 16, 2009

We "re-used" wood that is already present in our older house. This meant stripping old carpet off floors and refinishing the fir in the least toxic way. This also meant leaving the knotty pine cabinets that are dated. When we update anything, we do so in the most eco way possible, including scouring 2nd use stores and finding the least toxic alternatives. I am now looking for the best alternative for plywood here.

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