October 04, 2012

Sustainable Sailing in San Francisco

By Ryan

In celebration of buidling of what might be the greenest ship ever attempted, the Educational Tall Ship Program and Sustainable Northwest hosted  a day in San Francisco Bay aboard their current floating classroom.  

As the 4-masted boat exited Richardson Bay, a brisk wind blew under the Golden Gate Bridge keeling the boat over.  Its cargo of green architects, Bay Area philanthropists, and leading sustainability thinkers grabbed on to whatever they could.  While rounding Alcatraz island passengers learned about the good work of ETS to provide environmental education to Bay Area youth.  Being a team that walks its talk, they have purchased Sustainable Northwest Wood's Oregon White Oak for their new boat, which is aspiring to meet the Living Building Challenge. 

Safely back in harbor we bid our shipmates farewell, but hope that we will hear from them again soon.

October 04, 2012

Add flavor to your kitchen with fresh local butcher block, harvested from nearby forests


Autumn always reminds us of the generosity of our region's agricultural lands through the bounty of our crops and the promise of nourishment through the winter.

The forests surrounding our cities are no different: They generously provide the wood for building our shelters and keeping us warm and protected through the colder seasons.

This is why we are pleased to introduce new Oregon Hardwood Butcher Block counter tops made from sustainably harvested local hardwoods!

By sourcing our wood from salvage sources and respectful, small-scale harvesting, we are paying our respects to the forests that sustain life for so many species, humans included.

Now available in:

  • Madrone (Salvaged, Central Point)
  • FSC Big Leaf Maple (Hyla Woods, Gaston)
  • Oregon White Oak (Zena Forest, Rickreall)
  • FSC Doug Fir (Zigzag Doug Fir, Zigzag)

Our Oregon Hardwood Butcher Blocks are:

  • In stock and ready for installation
  • Kiln-dried, solid hardwood
  • Made from FDA-approved adhesives
  • 1 1/2" x 26 1/2", ready to be trimmed to fit your space
  • Lengths up to 10'
  • Custom dimensions available 

Photos, from top: Oregon White Oak butcher block features a unique grain pattern reminiscent of wine country; a Madrone butcher block counter top provides a perfect warm dining surface at a restaurant in Portland. 

August 20, 2012

Oregon White Oak Sets Sail with the Educational Tall Ship


When the team at Educational Tall Ship set out to build the world's most sustainable ship, they knew they'd need a boatload of wood.  And because of their mission and the purpose of the ship, it had to come from sources that would earn their approval, meeting all three criteria of the triple bottom line.

A call to Sustainable Northwest Wood was the natural next step.

We partnered with Edaucational Tall Ship to provide locally grown Oregon White Oak, which is being used throughout the ship for planking butt blocks, rails, rigging parts, hatches, interior doors and furniture, the rudder, and other places that need a durable hardwood.

Oregon White Oak is an indigenous species that spreads its roots from Northern California through Oregon, Washington, and into British Columbia.  Unfortunately, it is not a high-value species in the eyes of most landowners, and the vast majority of the oak population has been destroyed since settlement of the area, replaced first with pasture and more recently with Douglas Fir plantations.  Only 5% of the original oak population remains in Oregon.

Today's crop du jour, grapes, is the latest land use trend to pose a threat to Oregon White Oak's survival as ever more forest is cleared to make way for agriculture (photo at right).

Sustainable Northwest Wood is working to build a market and commercial value for Oregon White Oak, which will encourage landowners to preserve their existing oak stands and, hopefully, replant this magificent species when Douglas fir plantations are cut.  Oak habitat is critical for many species in the Willamette Valley, including Fender's blue butterfly (photo at left), Kincaid's lupine, and the Willamette daisy, each of which are listed as endangered. 

Much of the oak used in the Educational Tall Ship was sourced from Zena Forest Products in Rickreall, an FSC certified, family owned forest and mill that cultivates oak to ensure its survival and success on their lands. Some of the oak was also salvaged from chip yards, where most oak ends up once it has been cleared from land that is transitioning into other uses because it is commonly and mistakenly perceived to have no value.

Photo at right: Educational Tall Ship's executive director, Alan Olson, meets with Ben and Sarah Deumling, the owners and managers of Zena Forest, to see first-hand where the oak was sourced.

We are proud to see our local oak going into exciting projects like the Educational Tall Ship, where this most valuable resource will provide many decades of beauty and performance.

The Educational Tall Ship is a groundbreaking project that will be the first wooden ship of this size built in San Francisco in nearly 100 years. She will be 100 feet long on deck and have a 25 foot beam. In addition to careful sourcing of materials, the ship is also being built with an eye toward energy efficiency: She will meet her own energy needs through regenerative power technologies. 

Instead of diesel engines, the ship is propelled by DC electric motors directly connected to the propeller shafts and drawing energy from large battery banks. When the ship is sailing, the propellers will rotate by the energy of the passing water causing the electric motors to become generators. Significant electrical energy is created as sailing speeds increase. Energy self-sufficiency can be achieved by producing and storing enough energy from just four to six hours of sailing.

The design team's goal is to combine appropriate technologies from the 19th and 21st centuries - skipping over the petroleum era - and craft a ship that will be unique teaching tool to inspire appreciation for past designs, innovative solutions and address the long-range consequences of dated technologies to build a world with a more sustainable future.

Click here to learn more about this innovative project.

To celebrate this promising partnership, Sustainable Northwest Wood and Educational Tall Ship are co-hosting a sailing trip on an existing ship. This adventure is for Bay area green building professionals who wish to learn more about sustainable wood procurement. Join us for an evening voyage along the waterfront and around the beautiful sites of San Francisco Bay.

Saturday, September 21, 2012 from 5pm to 8pm
RSVP by September 7th.
Click here for more information.

August 14, 2012

Blue pine and juniper: What a beautiful dream!


When you're visiting this year's Street of Dreams, be sure to look up!  Our Campground Blue Pine adds a fresh layer of texture and color to the ceilings in the "Oregon Dream" home on this year's tour.  The paneling was used in the home's study and master bedroom, where it was paired with sophisticated tones of blue and gray for an elegant, polished aesthetic. 

The home also features Restoration Juniper fireplace mantles.  The home's builders, Stone Bridge Homes, opted to leave the slabs in their natural state with the bark still attached for an authentic, untouched look.  Again, the effect is elegance, especially when paired with the home's carefully curated art and furniture.

The home was designed by Skyline Homes and the interiors were composed by Lisa Shipley at  Imagine Home Staging.

July 24, 2012

Wide-plank blue pine flooring for a decidedly modern interior


When most folks think of blue pine, the image conjured in their heads is a rustic mountain cabin replete with deer heads on the walls and Adirondack-style furniture in every room.

So it's refreshing that the design team behind this project interpreted blue pine's distinctive look in a totally different way.  The floors in this home are 12" wide planks of blue pine. When paired with the home's simple white walls, glass tile backsplash, and modern light fixtures, the results are crisp, clean, modern lines.  We love it!

This gorgeous home is a gut remodel in Southeast Portland recently completed by JRA Green Building, which in addition to the striking blue pine floors also features FSC cedar siding and decking and fantastic energy upgrades.  Potential homeowners may enjoy knowing it's on the market

June 27, 2012

Campground Blue Pine: These salvaged trees can save your style


Our Campground Blue Pine is a good wood to choose for your next green building project.  Eco-conscious builders and designs everywhere will appreciate its story, which begins in forests across the West...

Starting in the mid-90's, a massive beetle epidemic has swept across the arid lands west of the Mississippi.  To say that it is the largest insect infestation in American history is, in truth, an understatement of the changes occuring in America's forests.  So far more than 150 million acres of pine forest, from southern Colorado deep into Canada and from the Dakotas to the Cascades, have fallen prey to the beetles, turning formerly green mountains into vast slopes of dead brown skeletons.  And the beetles' range continues to expand each year.

As can be expected, the causes of this epidemic are complex.  Warming temperatures have enabled the beetles to reproduce all year and also survive the formerly harsh winters that once kept their numbers down.  The natural fire cycle that once cleaned beetles out of forests, thinned stands of trees, and enabled many tree species to reproduce, is now suppressed from the first spark.  And hotter, drier summers have stressed trees, making them more vulnerable to attack and less able to fight off the intruders. 

When the beetles bore their first holes in a tree, they introduce a fungus that they carry around in a specialized pouch in their heads.  The two species work hand-in-hand, with one facilitating the other's success.  As scientists have recently observed, the fungus eats the tree's natural antifungal resins, turning what should be a poison into a food source.  As a final gesture of goodwill to its insect hosts, the fungus injects the tree with a chemical that basically turns off the tree's water main, preventing it from circulating water and sap through its system.  This allows the beetles to make their final push into the now-defenseless tree.

It is this same fungus that lends the infested trees their beautiful blue stain.  Today, blue pine is a representation of our changing world, a natural product that for many years was seen as defective but which today we appreciate because of its ample supply, its charming aesthetic properties, and its poignant story.

In fact, cutting the blue pine trees can be a positive and proactive approach to managing the forests.  Strategically removing dead trees from high-use areas such as campgrounds and parks can help reduce the risk of catastrophic wildfire and property damage -- provided it is done in an ecologically sensitive and responsible way (increasing evidence shows that even beetle-kill forests are full of wildlife, and forest floors bloom with wildflowers and insects following a good burn). 

Plus the milling of these trees provides jobs in areas that have been economically suppressed for many years, restoring lumber jobs to towns that developed for them. 

And, of course, each time a person chooses blue pine for their project over another wood alternative, they are choosing to preserve the vitality--and the carbon sequestration abilities--of a living tree.

Blue pine is ideal for interior applications including wall and ceiling paneling and furniture.  While it is softer than some other types of wood, with the proper care it can also be used as a durable, cost-effective, and all-natural option for flooring.  We especially like the work of several artists and woodworkers who have begun to use denim pine, including the modernist designs at I've Got Wood Furniture in Colorado (see photo at left) and the minimalist tables and chairs designed and built by students for Vancouver's 2010 Winter Olympics.  We also love the sweeping back patio roof and walls at Rontoms in Portland, which JRA Green Building recently made out of our locally-sourced blue pine.

Sustainable Northwest Wood is proud to partner with small mills that are salvaging beetle-killed pine trees from public parks and campgrounds where the dead standing trees pose a risk to human users.

In addition to our in-stock paneling in both 6" and 8" faces, we also carry 4/4 lumber in widths up to 12" that is perfect for furniture, trim, and other creative applications, and 8/4 live-edge slabs in lengths up to 12' and widths up to 20". 

June 18, 2012

EcoPDX custom crafts durable, sustainable furniture in Portland


Our friends at EcoPDX deserve some time in the spotlight for their hard work transforming locally harvested hardwoods into beautiful, heirloom-quality furniture.  They're big fans of walnut and alder but have also mastered exceptional pieces in Oregon White Oak.  

You can visit their showroom at 2289 N Interstate Ave in Portland, or check out other examples of their work here.

Top right: Modern meets classic with this boxy, broad walnut coffee table
Below: A walnut table and bench display gorgeous joinery and silken grain
Bottom: Oregon White Oak paired with steel tubes for a modern take on a media stand.

June 07, 2012

Builder by Bike


Portland has a growing community of folks who run their businesses by bicycle. We are very happy to work with Portland's Builder by Bike, Chris Sanderson, who loaded up about 300 lbs of cedar onto his trailer this afternoon.

Evidently, others approve of his methods, too:  The drizzle abated and the sun peeked out of the clouds just as he left the warehouse!

May 22, 2012

Juniper Tour - Witnessing the Silent Invasion


Last Friday, Sustainable Northwest Wood hosted a tour of an area that has been affected by juniper's slow but steady encroachment on Oregon's native grasslands and several projects that have used juniper for a variety of interior and exterior applications.

After meeting at Disjecta Arts Center in Portland's Kenton neighborhood to view their recent installation of outdoor juniper benches, the tour group travelled to the town of Fossil, in Wheeler County, which sits at the northernmost reach of juniper's current range.  At the first stop, juniper sawyer Kendall Derby demonstrated how a juniper mill works, slicing open a log for guests to see, and then showing the group his warehouse and a variety of products made with juniper lumber.

Guests then dined at the Timber Wolf Cafe in Fossil, which was recently redesigned to feature juniper interior finishes, including flooring, wall cladding, and a distinctive live-edge bar (photo at left). 

After lunch, guests arrived at a viewpoint of the Cottonwood Creek watershed and the hills surrounding Fossil, where the encroaching juniper woodland can be seen spreading across thousands of acres of former grassland (photo below). 

The last stop on the tour was the OSU Extension office that is nearing completion in Moro, OR, which among a number of notable sustainable finishes includes juniper siding across its entire exterior. 

Among the highligts of the tour were a series of before-and-after photos of the Fossil area, which showed Fossil being surrounded by bare hills covered in native grasses when settlers first arrived to homestead in the area. 

Today, of course, those once-grassy slopes are well-populated with juniper trees, which are coming to dominate the other plants, commandeering precious groundwater, loosening the soil for erosion, and making foraging harder for the many native animals who have evolved to depend on a robust grassland ecosystem.

The tour group consisted of architecture and design professionals from Portland, as well as members of Oregon BEST, landscape architects, students, contractors, county officials, and other interested parties.  The tour was sponsored by Neil Kelly, Cascadia Green Building Council, and Sustainable Northwest.

May 10, 2012

New Big Leaf Maple Panels: Unique, Beautiful, and Completely Local!


We recently developled a breathtaking new product that pushes the boundaries of sustainable and truly triple bottom line materials. 

Previously, the only FSC maple plywood and panels we were able to find were made from Eastern Maple, which is known for its clarity and pale blonde color.  While Eastern Maple is beautiful, and very commonly used, we needed to provide an alternative that is made entirely from wood grown in our region.

Behold: Our new Big Leaf Maple architectural-grade panels are FSC, local, and Red List Ready -- perfect for LEED, Living Building Challenge, and other cutting-edge green projects!

We started with FSC certified Big Leaf Maple hardwood from a small, family owned and operated forest just south of Portland that mills their wood on-site.  These beautiful book-matched slabs were then applied to PureBond plywood, which hails from Klamath Falls, OR, and is made using an advanced alternative to urea formaldehyde adhesives.  The glue-ups were completed in Eugene, OR, and then brought to our warehouse in Portland.

This short supply chain and collaboration with businesses in our neighboring communities helps keep our investments in the Pacific Northwest, right where we want them, and ensures that our products are not only environmentally sustainable, but also socially responsible and economically beneficial along each step of the chain.

We now stock the panels in 1/4", 1/2", and 3/4" thicknesses, perfect for cabinetry, doors, furniture, and other applications. 

Photo, top: The photo at the top righ shows the new maple panels with Osmo Polyx-Oil (background), which brings ou the red tones in the wood, and Vermont Natural Coatings (layer with logo), which softens the warm tones of the wood.
Photo, below: This robust Big Leaf Maple is growing in the small, family-owned FSC forest where the maple in our new architectural panels originates.