U.S. Timber: Counter-intuitive Sustainability
It is our hope and mission that sustainable U.S. timber and hardwoods are considered for all architectural projects worldwide.
It may seem counter intuitive to suggest that the more we utilize U.S. timber, the healthier U.S. forests become. It may also be counter intuitive to say that there is twice as much hardwood growing now than there was 50 years ago in the United States. Both notions are true thanks to the practice of selection harvest in the United States.
Selection harvesting is a model of resource management where only the mature trees are harvested. The more mature trees are systematically removed, the more new growth is encouraged. When trees are harvested at their peak life, the carbon that the tree has been dutifully absorbing all of its life is captured. Once that tree has been rendered into boards and then into flooring or furniture, the carbon is captured forever.
The greatest risk our forests face is under-utilization rather than excessive harvest. An example to bear in mind is that a 5400 square foot American white oak floor stores approximately 32,000 pounds of carbon and the hardwood required for that floor will take only 25 seconds to regrow in American’s forests.
We are growing, through natural regeneration,
more than twice the volume that we harvest,
and we have twice the volume that we did 50 years ago.
Humans Need to Connect with Nature
We believe any space clad in wood to any degree is thusly a better space; that humans simply feel better in wood-clad spaces.
The concept of biophilic design is based on the theory that on a cellular level, humans need to connect with nature. When we are connected to nature though natural light and proximity to wood, our autonomic nervous system relaxes to a measurable degree. With that relaxation comes improved health.
Designing with wood benefits all of us, whether it is in the workplace, school, library or health care facility. Hospital patients in wood clad environments experience shorter stays and often require less pain medication. In Japan it is likely that one’s doctor might prescribe “Shinrin-yoku”, roughly translated as “forest bathing” for improving one's sense of well-being and overall health. Many human ailments can be traced back to stress. We live stress-filled lives and a study released in 2015 suggests that work related stress accounts for as much as $190 billion each year. In the process of forest bathing, slowing down and breathing in a forest can reduce your blood pressure measurably.
By bringing nature into our built environments we reconnect with our symbiotic relationship with trees. To quote Frank Lloyd Wright, "Wood is universally beautiful to man. It is the most humanly intimate of all materials."