Tuesday, February 6, 2007
Not all wood is created equal
Little did I think my life would come full circle. 1981 was the year I got my first job and it just happened to be in lumber…… well, in publishing about wood harvesting and production. I was then, a recent college graduate who wanted to work in journalism. So I became a sales representative for a publishing company that targeted advertisers who sold products and services to loggers and wood producers. (www.hattonbrown.com).
And now, 25 years later, I find that I am fascinated by the production of lumber….. again. But I’ve learned a lot in the intervening years. For one thing, the term “FSC” was not one that we bandied about in the 80’s. As with lots of things, we were generally unaware that lumber was a commodity that might one day run out. Yes, there was controversy over the protection of the spotted owl and a general appreciation for “responsible” conservation of forests. In fact, any logger would have agreed that clear-cutting was a myopic way of producing lumber for a consuming nation of wood products.
Sadly, large logging, paper, and lumber producers don't seem to have a “stewardship” philosophy about the forests they are cutting down. And neither does our current government. After a series of EPA chiefs that have been more aligned with lobbyists than the natural resources they were entrusted to protect, we have a scarcity situation on our hands. As with water (see earlier post) and oil, wood is likely not to be readily available to our future generations if we don't change our practices now-- in this generation.
That’s why wood is now a focus for green renovation. How can we consume responsibly? What wood is readily available? What are alternatives?
FSC lumber: It’s the guarantee that lumber has been produced “responsibly” and by using these “approved products,” it effectively assures that there will be more wood for the next generation.
Reclaimed lumber: Lots of industrious people have decided to trade in what others cast off or dispose of. As a result, there are wonderful recycled wood floors, beams and architectural elements that are waiting for a new home. A former Ziff Davis colleague has a thriving business that caters to the high end and the end result is beautiful wood full of sheen and character.
Dakota burl and Biofiber sheets: These products are made in Minnesota of waste crop materials-- but the bottom line is that they use less virgin materials, less embodied energy, and less chemicals.
Kirei board: (pronounced ki ray') is an engineered panel product constructed from the stalks of the Sorghum plant. The stalks left over after harvest are heat-pressed with a non-toxic adhesive to form a lightweight, strong, unique product. Kirei Board is used for all interior architectural millwork applications. It is not rated as a structural panel for exterior applications.
Bamboo plywood: is made from 100 percent rapidly renewable bamboo, using adhesives that are both strong and emissions free. It can be cut and sanded using conventional woodworking equipment. It can also be glued or mechanically fastened using the same materials and fasteners commonly used with wood. Bamboo is a low resin, open grained material that takes stains and finishes exceptionally well.