Sustainable Wood Sourcing
What products we choose to purchase and materials we choose to build with matters. There are simple ways to reduce the carbon and environmental impacts of a building’s materials, and by extension the building itself, such as reusing reclaimed and recycled materials rather than buying them new.
When we do buy new, however, we need to assess the environmental impacts of the material. To do this, we should look at its life cycle from beginning to end. For wood products that means we need to start in the forest.
There is a lot of attention on wood as a potentially low-carbon intensive building material, but the full picture is much more nuanced and complex. Different methods of forest management and timber harvesting have different impacts on carbon storage, as well as water and air quality, wildlife habitat, nearby communities, and more. When considering the impacts of wood materials and products it’s important to look at the management practices in the forests they came from, how they were transported, and how they were milled or manufactured. To do this effectively, we also need to be able to reliably trace products through the supply chain from start to finish.
We work with the architectural and building community, local and state government, land managers, and others throughout the supply chain, to increase transparency around environmental and equity impacts, improve product tracing, and to promote the consideration of all of these factors in wood procurement decisions.
We are working with our partners to bring Buy Clean and Buy Fair policies to Washington, which promote spending taxpayer dollars on materials that are manufactured with high environmental and labor standards. This harnesses existing state spending to cut industrial carbon emissions and level the playing field for local and domestic manufacturers with responsible business practices that invest in reducing pollution.
Climate Smart Wood Group
Washington Conservation Action is a founding member of the Climate Smart Wood Group (CSWG) and sits on the CSWG’s leadership council. The CSWG works to achieve transparency in wood supply chains based on the belief that the value wood products can provide for improved climate, ecological, and economic outcomes are better understood, quantified and supported by improved data availability. This will enable markets to place value on the social and climate impacts of wood.
Rachel Baker, Evergreen Forests Program Director