[Originally posted at JetsonGreen. I really like the attitude of appropriate regionalism this shows; using the available resource. And Preston found a better image (included here) than what I was able to get for the article.]

Colorado has millions of acres of pines throughout its forests that have been killed by an infestation of beetles. New Town Builders, a residential homebuilder in Denver, Colorado, has begun using salvaged wood from these trees for the structural framing of homes it is constructing. The company was approached about building a single demonstration home using wood from lodgepole pine trees which had been killed by themountain pine beetle. New Town found that the wood was discolored but structurally sound and has now begun using the “blue wood” for all of their framing.

[Read the whole article at JetsonGreen.]

[Originally posted on EcoGeek. This seems to be based on a carbon footprint analysis, and there are other metrics that rate 'green'-ness in other ways, so the argument isn't as clear-cut (no pun intended) as the headline would suggest.]

Green building advocates and construction product marketers have different views of what the greenest building material is. Different ways of determining what green means will lead to different results. But according to a recent report from the U.S. Forest Service, wood is the greenest building material.

This analysis seems to rest largely on the carbon footprint of various construction materials.

“The argument that somehow non-wood construction materials are ultimately better for carbon emissions than wood products is not supported by our research,” said David Cleaves, the U.S. Forest Service Climate Change Advisor. “Trees removed in an environmentally responsible way allow forests to continue to sequester carbon through new forest growth. Wood products continue to benefit the environment by storing carbon long after the building has been constructed.”

Wood is also unique as a renewable resource that actively sequesters carbon from the atmosphere. As they grow, trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it into the structure of the wood. In doing so, wood is a carbon storage material, and that carbon is locked away until the wood decomposes or burns.

The report additionally recommends that USDA further its outreach efforts to educate the construction industry and the general public to be more aware of the suitability of wood for non-residential construction and to further study of the carbon benefits of the use of wood in construction.

image: CC-SA 2.5 by Andreas Trepte, www.photo-natur.de

via: Architect magazine

[Originally posted on JetsonGreen. I've been interested in alternatives to pressure-treated wood for quite a while. I talked about some of these in my Penguicon presentation, and I've been enamored of Kebony for some time.

Accoya is another wood that is processed to make it more stable and decay resistant, without using toxic materials (Accoya uses acetic acid, essentially vinegar, to transform the wood without adding anything to the wood that isn't already naturally found there).

I'm very interested in doing some testing of my own with the two, to see how they both perform, but unfortunately it's pricey stuff. But both should last for decades, so it's an investment, as is the case with many other durable materials.]

If you want to use wood in an exterior application, your options are wider than ever. While durable tropical hardwoods have been decimated by unsustainable logging, there are several methods of preserving wood that produce even more durable and sustainable products. These are not woods infused with toxic chemicals or metal compounds that can leach out. Rather these woods are transformed to be more durable and decay resistant.

Read full article with further images.

[Originally posted on EcoGeek.]

biomass-plant

There’s more news on the sustainable and renewable energy front in Europe. Not only is wind power nearly on par with natural gas in Europe, but in Sweden now, biomass has passed oil as the top source for energy generation. The most recent figures indicate that biomass energy production reached 115 terrawatt hours in 2009, representing 32% of all energy consumption. At the same time, oil-based fuels were used to produce 112 TWh.  Biofuel use is expected to increase, while fossil fuel use should further decline in the coming years.

Biofueled combined heat and power (CHP) plants generate heat for more than half of the multifamily dwelling units in Sweden, as well as producing electricity. Sweden has a goal to have renewable energy reach 50% of all energy consumed in the country by 2020 and to be independent from imported fossil fuel for all transportation by 2030.

Wood is the source for the vast majority of the fuel used. However, the increased use of wood for energy has led to higher prices for other products requiring logs and paper pulp.

via: EERE Program News

Photo courtesy of: Mattias Hedström, wikipedia commons

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