Reclamation, reuse and the Urban Wood Project

Reclamation, reuse and the Urban Wood Project

Many thanks to disease, growth or just old age, around 36 million trees occur down every yr in towns throughout the United States. And with much more ferocious storms ripping by means of our landscapes — not to mention a altering climate’s affect on our tree’s ecosystems — that amount will only improve. (The countless numbers of trees currently slipping throughout California are a distressing example of that point.) 

When downed in an urban setting a wide greater part of trees are burned, mulched or landfilled, their embedded carbon and an estimated $786 million in yearly financial value missing to the ether. 

Meanwhile, our country’s enough urge for food for wood goods only grows. With a collective consumption behavior of 50 billion board feet of lumber each individual calendar year, throwing absent these fallen commodities would seem not just wasteful, but downright silly. 

A person has to ponder, why would you squander fantastic wood? 

Enter the Urban Wood Project 

The tossing of downed trees is a great deal the similar as the demolition of aged building content, a topic I expounded upon a couple quick months in the past. Relatively than leveraging the product we have on hand with a bit of gumption and elbow grease, we throw it absent in lieu of the new. As I noted then, we will need “additional dispersed corporations in the deconstruction and reuse sector [to] extend the market’s offerings, with the included reward of making resilience and economic action in regional communities.” 

That is why I was delighted to listen to about the City Wooden Challenge

Fashioned in 2018 under the auspices of the USDA Forest Service, the City Wooden Venture commenced in Baltimore when social company business Humanium and contemporary house-furnishings model Room & Board assisted kind a one of a kind general public-personal partnership.

Reclaiming wood from constructions slated for demolition and urban trees taken out for illness, routine maintenance and storm harm, the challenge made careers for individuals with barriers to work while diverting squander from landfill and carbon from the ambiance. In transform, Space & Board produced exclusive home furniture items from the important, salvaged product. The result? A earn, win, get, benefiting the city of Baltimore socially, environmentally and economically. 

Considering the fact that its inception, the City Wooden Challenge has collectively rescued an approximated 180,000 board ft of lumber and expanded sourcing across the United States, leveraging materials from Anaheim and Sacramento in California Detroit, Minneapolis and — most just lately — New York City.

We try to use additional renewable and recycled resources anywhere attainable. Partnering with cities throughout the nation to divert city wood from landfills and to make a round source chain aligns with our very long-expression vision.


In its latest incarnation, Space & Board has united with Tri-Lox, a Brooklyn, New York-centered millwork and style operation. With each other they’re tapping into decommissioned water tanks that dot New York’s iconic skyline and introducing to Space & Board’s reclamation efforts. All told, the organization diverts an believed 200 trees each year from the squander stream and gives approximately 30 items sourced from the project’s lumber. 

To learn a lot more about the City Wood Challenge, I emailed some concerns to Emily McGarvey, director of sustainability at Space & Board. The following exchange has been edited for size and clarity. 

Suz Okie: Why is the City Wooden Project a strategic priority for Space & Board? 

Emily McGarvey: Wooden is our most-utilized material. Sourcing it responsibly just makes perception. And with 90 p.c of our products produced in the United States, we are in a special placement to maintain resources and generation in just the state. 

Since our founding in 1980, sustainable procedures have been basic to our organization. As a founding member of the Sustainable Furnishings Council, we recognize there’s far more to do, from improved sourcing and extra dependable materials to investing in the well-remaining of people and communities. Our aspiration is to be a sustainability leader that positively impacts society and the earth. We prioritize social and environmental difficulties centered on their product importance to Place & Board [and] have organized our major priority difficulties into a few pillars: Superior Items Better for People today and Much better for the World.

In that vein, we prioritize American craft, pattern-proof type and currently being sustainable by design. We attempt to employ a lot more renewable and recycled supplies wherever feasible. Partnering with metropolitan areas throughout the region to divert urban wood from landfills and to build a round offer chain aligns with our very long-phrase eyesight. We can prioritize this challenge for the reason that of potent leadership guidance and prospects that provide these heirloom quality goods into their homes.

Okie: Notify me a little bit about the Urban Wood Project’s New York City expansion and the wooden you are sourcing there.

McGarvey: Every city offers a exceptional possibility. In New York Town, our companion Tri-Lox is turning decommissioned drinking water towers into the Millbridge Frames (accessible now) and the Artemis Bath collection (launches in April). These decommissioned drinking water towers are made from Californian Redwoods and Alaskan Cedar. 

Tri-Lox is also piloting with the NYC Park Program to use salvaged oak trees and transform them into Stanley Wall Cabinets (launching in late January 2023). The city is acquiring that as its drinking water table rises thanks to local climate alter, some of its trees will not react properly. These trees contain London aircraft sycamore and white and purple oak. 

We are piloting options as these trees will eventually need to be changed with species that can respond better to a modifying local climate. 

Okie: What issues has Room & Board encountered in leveraging reclaimed material? 

McGarvey: We are setting up a circular offer chain for urban wooden with a lot of partners. It’s exciting to be section of the course of action and does require patience and adaptability. In our initiatives, we’ve viewed 3 major worries.

  1. Style: Turning product destined for the squander stream into wonderful, heirloom-good quality household furniture can be an extraordinary layout challenge. Our designers are creatively designing merchandise to the reclaimed wood’s highest value by understanding its one of a kind high-quality and character and also by assembly our design and style ethos: timeless and modern day, purely natural supplies, artisan crafted and large high-quality. 
  2. Sourcing: Within this new round process, the provide chain needs to be related and sometimes developed. By partnering with the governing administration, nonprofits, startups and existing distributors, Area & Board supports the creation of the provide chain needed to just take the materials from urban regions to preprocessing to producing and, finally, to Home & Board showrooms. This requires persistence and flexibility for a offer chain to develop that did not previously exist.
  3. Scale: To in the long run scale reclaimed wooden, there is a have to have for a steady and reliable amount of high-quality wooden. And extra dimensional lumber is required to generate high-volume items like eating space tables and dressers. As the circular provide chain grows and matures, it will come to be a lot more efficient, bringing costs closer to mainstream costs. That will let additional companies to join us in using much more reclaimed wooden.

As McGarvey implies, a lot more companies, partnerships and inbound links in the offer chain are desired to build a robust process for reuse and reclamation of city wood. But for those ready to place in the effort, there are economic and environmental savings for the taking: Substantially like the metropolitan areas inside which they tumble, each individual downed tree represents a unique prospect. 

At the chance of repeating myself, from wherever I sit the more exertion feels “effectively really worth it.” 

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