Please enjoy this expertly crafted article by Matt Lee from Kebony.

"Wood has long been the traditional building material used in construction, remaining prevalent in both commercial and residential designs today. The typical home may be structurally made of wood, clad in wood siding, feature wood decks, and perhaps even incorporate interior wood walls. Wood is not only sought after for its warm appearance, but also for its ease of use and availability.

There is argument over whether wood is a responsible option when designing with sustainability in mind. The negativity surrounding the use of wood mainly stems from the damage to the environment during the harvesting process, which brings into question whether this is a sustainable material. The reality is the irresponsible harvesting of wood is not sustainable and will lead to damage that is not easily reversible. However, the wood itself is sustainable in the sense that trees may be replanted.

There are four factors to consider when it comes to the responsibility of using wood in modern construction.

FSC-Certified Wood Materials

 

 

When purchasing lumber is it vital to only purchase FSC-certified wood. Some lumber companies only sell FSC-certified wood products while others may only have specifically labeled certified product lines. It is important to select certified wood material whenever possible.

When a wood product is FSC-certified is means the Forest Stewardship Council has found the product to be harvested from a responsibly managed forest that provides benefit to the environment (as well as the social and economic advantage). Nearly all forms of lumber or wood used in a building can be found certified, from hardwood plywood to wood shingle siding. The majority of companies will proudly label their wood as certified if they are, but if you are unsure it is best to directly contact the company.

Sustainable, Advanced Wood Materials

Another very interesting advancement in the world of wood is the process of wood modification. While still a true wood product, modified wood is denser, more durable, and in many ways more attractive due to its smooth appearance. The demand of modified wood is growing, especially as the shift towards sustainable building design has become more popular. Modified wood essentially has all the advantages of wood with very few of its weakness.

Modified wood is often made of FSC-certified wood, adding more to the responsibility of this product option. In terms of care as a siding or decking material, modified wood requires no sealing, painting, or any other use of surface treatment products. This reduces the potential of off-gassing VOCs and makes this product non-toxic to humans, animals, and the environment. When used structurally there is also no concern over chemicals leaching into the soil.

Manufacturing Process of Wood Products

 

 

In addition to purchasing safe wood products, it's worth it to look into how finished wood products have been made. The manufacturing process of mass-produced furniture, for example, uses an incredible amount of energy and may release a substantial amount of air pollution. This furniture so commonly available also tends to rely on poor quality wood or particle board, which means it will end up as waste in a landfill quicker than quality furniture. There is also some difficulty in determining whether the wood was responsibly harvested as well.

With these concerns in mind, it makes sense to support small-scale furniture manufacturers or those that design real wood furniture from certified wood lumber. Purchasing from local woodworkers also eliminates emissions associated with shipping furniture. Crafted real wood furniture is also very long lasting with proper care, making it an excellent investment. A perfect example of this is Amish furniture. An Amish living room furniture set will have been made from responsibly harvested, local wood and constructed in a manner that uses less energy.

Wood Alternatives

Last but not least, sometimes wood alternatives are a great product to use in place of wood or in addition to wood. A common organic alternative to classic wood is bamboo panels. Bamboo has a very wood-like, warm appearance, often with a more clean, sleek look to it. Bamboo is naturally more moisture-resistant than wood, making it a great choice for interior design in kitchens and bathrooms. Bamboo is also a faster-growing building material, considered far more sustainable than wood for this reason.

Despite some misconceptions about the responsibility of using wood, this material will likely continue to be widely used in building design. Thankfully many companies strive to produce lumber that is responsibly harvested and free of potentially dangerous chemicals, which all helps to create more safe green buildings."

Thanks for the article Matt! If you have an article you would like to share with tree enthusiasts, comment below!

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