Blog

March 07, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years: What's in our name?

By KC Eisenberg

Our customers have called us by many monikers over the last ten years. Sometimes we are simply Sustainable. Other times we hear creative combinations of the three words that make up our company name: Northwest Sustainable, Sustainable Woods Northwest, and so on.

We agree, it's not the world's most descriptive or memorable name for a lumber company, but the story behind our name explains our roots, and offers insight into what makes our company, Sustainable Northwest Wood, such a special member of the wood products industry.

We were founded in 2008 by Ryan Temple, who was working at the local non-profit Sustainable Northwest as the Director of a network of regional sawmills. The network saw an opportunity, and a need, for a lumberyard to stock a wide selection of sustainable and locally harvested wood products, something that no other lumber company would commit to at that time.

FSC lumber was hard to find at most lumberyards, and local species from community based mills nearly impossible to find. This made it exceedingly difficult for environmentally-minded builders, architects, and homeowners to use these responsible wood products.

So, using their knowledge of the Northwestern lumber industry, Sustainable Northwest stepped in to fill this gap and make responsible, local lumber easier and more economical for everyone to use.
While still operating under the umbrella of the non-profit, we opened Sustainable Northwest Wood in 2008. Our first lumber sale rolled out the door just as the Great Recession was leading to an economic contraction nationwide that had an especially significant effect on the building and lumber industries. But nonetheless, you can't keep a good idea down, and Sustainable Northwest Wood has in the years since become a successful and enduring business.

We are still owned by Sustainable Northwest, our parent non-profit, and proceeds from our business go to support and strengthen their work in energy, forestry, and water conservation projects through the region.
These days, our product offering has increased greatly over what we had when we first opened our doors. From our Northwest Solid Wood Surfaces to our Restoration Juniper landscaping timbers, our products are a unique, and memorable, showcase of the sustainable abundance of the Pacific Northwest.
March 06, 2018

Many new Epilogue slabs in stock!

By KC Eisenberg

The Epilogue guys have been busy sawing and drying beautiful salvaged wood from metro trees, and recently added beautiful slabs in Silver Maple, Oregon White Oak, American and Chinese Elm, and Raywood Ash. Coming soon: Siberian Elm. 

You can stop in anytime to take a look at the current selection (8am to 5pm, Monday through Friday, at our showroom in SE Portland). 

You can also browse the online catalog of Epilogue slabs at this link.




March 06, 2018

Wood flooring: It's not just for floors!

By KC Eisenberg

One of our favorite interior design looks right now is T&G wall cladding. While we have traditional v-groove paneling options in stock, many clients are using our flooring products for quick, easy, and economical accent walls. 

We keep Character-grade Pacific Madrone, Restoration Juniper, and FSC Doug Fir flooring in stock and ready to go for floors, walls, and other creative installations. Contact us for updated pricing and availability.

Shown below, clockwise from top left: Character-grade Pacific Madrone, Zigzag Doug Fir, Select Pacific Madrone, and Rustic Doug Fir.

February 08, 2018

February Specials! Economy Juniper Timbers, Cedar Siding, Doug Fir Flooring, and More...

By KC Eisenberg

We've got lots of special items available right now at a discount, including flooring, economy-grade juniper timbers, and more. Check out the list below (PDF link) and give us a call...everything is first come, first served! 

Local sales only.

Click here to view our February Specials.

February 06, 2018

Project Profile: Reclaimed Doug Fir Stair Treads

By KC Eisenberg

When local developer Green Canopy came to us in search of some show-stopping wood for a staircase, we knew just what to provide: Custom reclaimed Douglas fir timbers salvaged from a nearby deconstruction project.

We were able to provide treads and matching accents, including the railing, stringers, and coordinating shelving, in just the dimensions they needed, hewn out of massive reclaimed beams.

We then sanded the timbers smooth, giving them a beautiful look for this graceful new home. 

January 04, 2018

Northwest Solid Wood Surfaces earn DECLARE label

By KC Eisenberg

By selecting the DECLARE product transparency label for our solid surface countertops, Sustainable Northwest Wood has become the first solid wood surface manufacturer to take this important step toward disclosing the ingredients used in wood adhesives. DECLARE is a transparency platform and product database developed and maintained by the International Living Future Institute that is changing the materials marketplace by making public the ingredients used within products. 

Our Northwest Solid Wood Surfaces are one of just a few products lines we are currently offering that aren't made of solid, 100% natural wood. In addition to the wood, which makes up more than 98% of them, these solid surfaces include adhesives that hold the individual staves of wood together. By declaring the adhesives in these products, we are taking a step toward informing our customers about the ingredients that make up these adhesives.

At this time, due to the proprietary nature of our supplier's formulas, we are not able to list with certainty all of the ingredients that make up these adhesives (the supplier isn't even able to disclose this information, simply because they don't know). This unfortunately is an industry-wide problem, and at this time there are no suitable alternative adhesives that can be used. But the DECLARE label is a step in the right direction, and has opened up a frank conversation with our supplier about their ingredients. 

By completing the DECLARE process, our solid wood surfaces have become compliant with Living Building Challenge projects.

Today, we can’t say that our solid wood surface countertops are Red List Free, but we see the DECLARE label as a step in the right direction. We will continue to advocate for the use of wood adhesives that can offer 100% transparency, and as soon as we and our suppliers are able to find an effective, high-quality Red List Ready adhesive that we can use for these tops, we look forward to employing it.

January 04, 2018

Celebrating 10 Years

By KC Eisenberg

The arrival of 2018 means that Sustainable Northwest Wood has been in business for 10 years! We first opened our doors back in 2008, just as the Great Recession was kicking into gear. Many doubted that a sustainable lumber yard could make it, especially with the economic contraction at that time, but we pressed on, determined to do our best to support small sawmills and develop a market for local wood.

And in the years since, we've proudly delivered nearly $2 million directly to the small mills on the East Side that cut and produce our juniper lumber.

We've sent nearly $2 million more to small, family-owned hardwood and cedar mills in the Willamette and Umpqua Valleys.

And we've sold nearly $5 million worth of FSC certified lumber and plywood, at a time when other lumberyards have been dropping their certifications and saying there's no market for FSC wood. 

Thanks for your role in helping us prove this idea, that a lumber business can both do good and do well. It is because of you, our dedicated customer, that sustainable lumber is a thriving and growing segment of the lumber market in the Pacific Northwest.

Here's to another 10 years of market transformation!
January 04, 2018

FSC Certification means Climate Smart Forestry

By KC Eisenberg

There are many strong reasons to support FSC forestry and buy wood products that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Our friends at Ecotrust recently completed a study that found yet another great reason: FSC certified forests can store more carbon while producing more timber than the current industrial norm. 

The study, called Climate Smart Forestry in the Pacific Northwest, simulated four scenarios of Douglas fir forest management over 100 years using the Forest Vegetation Simulator growth-and-yield model. Forests managed according to the guidelines of the Forest Stewarship Council (FSC) were looked at, as were forests managed according to the requirements of the Oregon and Washington Forests Practices Acts (FPA). The study simulated conditions in a selection of forested properties across the Pacific Northwest region, 22 of which were FSC Certified and 45 additional, non-certified properties that were randomly selected, to provide a large sample for comparing the outcomes. 

The study found that the FSC Certified properties always stored more carbon than the non-certified properties. FSC usually stored 25 to 60% more carbon than properties managed according to the rules of the FPS, with some offering as much as 80% more carbon storage.

Additionally, the longer rotations that are typical for FSC properties often produced more timber than the FPA property yields. Long FSC rotations were competitive with, and often had higher yields than, the short-rotation FPA scenarios, particularly on the properties studied in Washington.

Ecotrust defines Climate Smart Forestry as having longer rotations; protecting water quality and aquatic habitats with effective buffers around streams and wetlands; tightly restricting the use of chemicals and prohitibiting specific, particularly hazardous chemicals; and safeguarding High Conservation Value forests, i.e., old growth. 

By adopting policies and incentives that reward Climate Smart Forestry, states could offer a win-win for Pacific Northwest forests: Increased carbon storage combined with a high timber output. 

December 01, 2017

FSC Leadership Awards 2017: Congrats to Green Hammer and McLennan Design!

By KC Eisenberg

Congratulations to Green Hammer and McLennan Design for being among the winners of the 2017 FSC Leadership Awards

Green Hammer won an award for their Cowhorn Winery project, a biodynamic winery and tasting room in Southern Oregon's Applegate Valley. McLennan Design won for Heron Hall, a residence on Washington's Bainbridge Island.

Both of these Living Building Challenge projects are filled with local and FSC Certified woods, as required by the LBC standard. Sustainable Northwest Wood was honored to provide the framing lumber, plywood, Western Red Cedar, and other special items used in these projects.

Click here to read more about the wood that went into the Cowhorn Winery project, and check out Green Hammer's profile of the Cowhorn Winery here.

Click here to read more about the wood that went into Heron Hall. And visit the Heron Hall website here to learn more about this ground-breaking residential project.

December 01, 2017

Juniper road trip: Our autumn tour of juniper mills

By KC Eisenberg



Earlier this fall, we took some time to travel around Eastern Oregon and visit the mills that are cutting juniper for us. It was an opportunity for usto meet some folks who are new to the scene, and to keep our finger on the pulse of the mills as they work to produce ever more juniper for growing markets up and down the West Coast.

First, we visited with Caleb Morris, who runs the juniper milling operation for the Ritter Land Management Team. A collaborative group of landowners near the "place" of Ritter (it's not technically a town, they take care to explain to visitors, but a community nonetheless) is working toward juniper remediation by culling logs from overgrown private ranchlands. They recently qualified for a grant through the Western Juniper Industry Fund to invest in a sawmill, and plan to turn the juniper into useful lumber to help offset the costs of the landscape restoration efforts.

Next we ventured to John Day to see the new milling operation at Malheur Lumber, a sawmill that is owned by the larger timber company Ochoco Lumber. Ochoco is a staple in Eastern Oregon and has been in operation since the 1930's, cutting Ponderosa pine and other softwoods harvested from the bountiful forests nearby.

As the forests and rangelands changed over the decades, with juniper encroaching on Ponderosa territory and the composition of the woods changing, Ochoco saw an opportunity in juniper, and recently, through the Western Juniper Industry Fund, acquired special milling equipment to cut it. We recently brought in 2x10 and 2x12 juniper from this mill and anticipate introducing more of this lumber to our customers in 2018.

After John Day, we stopped in the hamlet of Dayville, along the scenic banks of the South Fork of the John Day River, to talk with two small mills there, South Fork Gardens and South Fork Mill.

And finally, we visited In The Sticks Sawmill in Fossil, which is owned by Kendall Derby. We have worked with Kendall from the start of our work with juniper and have enjoyed watching his business blossom as the market for juniper has grown. Kendall, too, recently acquired more milling equipment and is rapidly producing high-quality, beautiful juniper lumber.  

The upshot of this uplifting tour is that we expect to be able to provide growing markets with a stable and steady supply of juniper lumber in the coming months.