Participate In Telling Our Super Sustainable Story

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Many things influence your business decisions. One of the growing influences is the current environmental push to lower human impact to mitigate climate change. Whether or not you believe humans impact climate change is irrelevant. Whether or not the current activities to improve the environment are helping is also irrelevant. The perception that action is necessary influences the markets and your business. The good news is that wood is renewable, sustainable, and low-impact, and we must tell that story.

The concept of sustainability in the Hardwood lumber industry, particularly in sustainable forestry, is multifaceted. It goes beyond the common perception of planting more trees than harvesting and preserving habitats for recreation. The sustainable Hardwood story ensures a flourishing and thriving forest, allowing trees to replenish naturally at a pace supporting an exponentially renewable increase.

One crucial aspect highlighted is the role of deciduous trees in carbon sequestration, which is the carbon embodied or stored in the Hardwood product. In natural forests and urban settings, these trees absorb significant amounts of carbon; wood is approximately 50 percent carbon, contributing to carbon sequestration. The carbon absorbed is then retained in the wood products for extended periods, from decades to centuries. This carbon sequestration in Hardwood products adds an environmental benefit to the Hardwood story.

Moreover, when Hardwood products reach the end of their useful life, they can be burned for energy to substitute for higher-impact fossil fuels or disposed of in landfills to sequester the carbon in the ground further. This end-of-life cycle further emphasizes the sustainability of solid Hardwood, as it minimizes the environmental impact. How does all this impact your business decisions?

For the most part, this is all happening in the background and is driving policy and markets. People discuss it at the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). IPCC is the United Nations body that assesses the science related to climate change. They are pushing Product Category Rules (PCR) and Environmental Product Declarations (EPD) in conjunction with Life Cycle Assessments (LCA) of all materials. Hardwoods have the best story; we must participate or risk falling behind.

The US Forest Service has awarded a Wood Innovation Grant to the American Wood Council (AWC) to work on cataloging and compiling the PCR and EPD data for you. AWC is working with the Hardwood Federation (HF), National Wooden Pallet & Container Association (NWPCA), Decorative Hardwood Association (DHA), and NHLA to compile the data from mills for Hardwood production throughout the USA. Once complete, you can input the carbon impacts of your operations into a secure website where it will be amalgamated with the rest of the industry to show our impact. You can then use that information to create company specific EPDs for your lumber.

With the lowest carbon footprint material, Hardwood has a compelling super-sustainability story that emphasizes natural growth, carbon sequestration, and responsible end-of-life practices. If you don’t participate in gathering your data and submitting it, you are going to miss out on influencing policy, climate change, and, as I have emphasized before, forest change. Everyone in the Hardwood lumber business needs to submit answers and show we are the best story. Why not reach out to your association to add your data and participate in telling our super sustainable story?

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