February 5, 2023

Recycling and Urban Timber Projects

Thanks to disease, development, or roughly old age. 36 million trees come down each year in different cities across the United States And with more intense storms sweeping through our landscapes – not to mention the effects of climate change on our tree ecosystems – that number will only increase. thousands of trees (Falling across California is a distressing example of that fact.)

when subversive in urban environments Most trees are burned, mulched, or landfilled. Carbon embedded in trees and The annual economic value is about $786 million. disappear with the air

At the same time, the adequate demand for wood products in our country is only increasing. with the general consumption habits of 5 billion board feet lumber each year Throwing away these fallen goods doesn’t seem like a waste. But it’s also foolish.

I wonder why wasting good wood?

into the urban wood project

Cutting down fallen trees is like demolishing old building materials. which is a topic I explained a few months ago. Instead make use of the material we have with a little glue and elbow grease. We will discard it instead of a new one. As I’ve said, we need a “more distributed organization in the dismantling and recycling sector.” [to] Expand the market offering with the added bonus of building resilience and economic activity in local communities.”

That’s why I was delighted to hear about urban timber projects.

Established in 2018 under the patronage of USDA Forest ServiceThe Urban Wood project began in Baltimore as a social service organization. Humanium and a brand of modern home furnishings room and board It helps create a unique public-private partnership.

Reclaiming timber from structures scheduled for demolition and urban trees removed due to disease. maintenance and storm damage project Create jobs for those who have barriers to employment. Alongside diverting waste from landfills and carbon from the atmosphere, Room & Board, on the other hand, created one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture from precious, salvaged materials. The result? Win, Win, Win benefits Baltimore socially, environmentally, and economically.

since its inception The Urban Lumber Program has already assisted approximately 180,000 lumber logs and has expanded its supply throughout the United States. It leverages materials from Anaheim and Sacramento in California, Detroit, Minneapolis and, most recently, New York City.

We are committed to using more renewable and recycled materials wherever possible. partnerships with cities Nationwide to divert urban timber from landfills and build a circular supply chain that aligns with our long-term vision.

In its newest incarnation, Room & Board has merged with tri-lox, Mill Operations and Design in Brooklyn, New York Together they bore decommissioned water tanks dotted across New York’s iconic skyline. And increasing the efforts of Room & Board to reclaim the sea, as it is well known that The company converts about 200 trees annually from waste streams and offers a rough idea. 30 products comes from the wood of the project

To learn more about the Urban Wood project, I emailed my question to Room & Board director of sustainability, Emily McGarvey. The following exchange has been edited for length and clarity.

Suz Okie: Why the Urban Wood Project is Strategically Important for Room and Board

Emily McGarvey: Wood is the material we use the most. Responsible Sourcing Makes Sense And with 90 percent of our products made in the USA We are therefore in a unique position to keep materials and production local.

Since our founding in 1980, sustainable practices have been the cornerstone of our company. As a founding member of Sustainable Decoration CouncilWe realize there is still a lot to do. since better sourcing and more responsible materials to investing in the well-being of people and communities Our aspiration is to be a leader in sustainability that has a positive impact on society and the planet. We prioritize social and environmental issues based on how important they are to the room and board. [and] has organized our top priorities into three pillars: better products; better for people and better for the world

In that direction, we value American craftsmanship. Style that doesn’t go out of trend. and sustainable design We are committed to using more renewable and recycled materials wherever possible. partnerships with cities Nationwide to divert urban timber from landfills and build a circular supply chain that aligns with our long-term vision. We were able to prioritize this project because of the strong support of leaders and customers who bring these heritage quality products into their homes.

Okie: Tell me about the Urban Wood Project’s New York City expansion and the wood you supply there.

McGarvey: Each city presents a unique opportunity. In New York City, our partner Tri-Lox is replacing obsolete water towers with the Millbridge Frames (available now) and Artemis Bath collection (launching April). This is built from California redwood and Alaskan cedar.

Tri-Lox also piloted with the NYC Park System to use salvaged oak and turn it into a Stanley wall shelf. (launching late January 2023) The city is finding that as water levels rise due to climate change, Some plants will not respond very well. These trees include London sycamores and white and red oaks.

We are piloting a solution as these trees must be replaced with species that can respond better to the changing climate.

Okie: What challenges did Room & Board encounter in utilizing the recalled materials?

McGarvey: Together with many partners, we are building a circular supply chain for urban timber. Being a part of this process is exciting and requires patience and flexibility. in our efforts We have seen three main challenges.

  1. design: Turning materials intended for junk into beautiful, heirloom-quality furniture can be an incredible design challenge. Our designers are designing products creatively by maximizing the value of reclaimed wood. By understanding its quality and character. And by following our design principles: timeless and modern. natural materials Artisan craftsmanship and high quality
  2. Supply: Within this new circulation system Supply chains need to be connected and built up sometimes. in cooperation with the government non profit organization startup company and existing vendors. Room & Board supports the creation of the supply chain necessary to bring materials from urban areas to pre-production processes. and finally, the Room & Board showroom. It takes patience and flexibility to grow the supply chain like never before.
  3. scale: To adjust the size of reusable wood A consistent and reliable quantity of quality wood is required. And more dimensional wood is needed to create many items, such as dining room tables and dressing tables. As the circular supply chain grows and matures will be more efficient Make the cost closer to the main cost which will help companies Join us for more use of recycled wood.

As McGarvey suggests, more organizations, partnerships and links in the supply chain are needed to create robust systems for urban timber reuse and recycling. but for those who are willing to make the effort There are economic and environmental savings for action: just like the cities they fell. Each broken tree represents a unique opportunity.

At the risk of repeating myself from where I sat, the extra effort felt “worth it.”

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