A customer on a quest to find the lowest-carbon siding recently stopped by to ask about our cedar. In our discussion with him, we were pleased to deduce that our FSC 100%, locally harvested Western Red Cedar siding is, from a carbon-mitigation viewpoint, as green as it gets.
During the siding selection process, a few considerations can help determine the most sustainable, lowest carbon materials:
- The source of raw materials used to produce it
- The energy required to produce/manufacture it
- Total life cycle (what happens at the end of its lifespan?)
- The transportation required to get it to you
Some in-vogue options, like fiber cement board, can add insulation and reduce a building's operating energy costs, but the energy required to produce cement products is so high, and so much transportation is required to ferry around the raw materials and then the finished product, that the net effect is high-carbon.
Wood options generally require much less energy to produce, tipping the scales in favor of forest products. However, some classic wood siding choices are not particularly green. The cedar shingles that clad many older homes demand large diameter (read: old growth) trees to produce; and many well-meaning but mistaken designers often specify "clear vertical grain" cedar products that also require the harvest of old growth trees.
Our locally sourced, FSC 100% Western Red Cedar siding provides the perfect antidote to these design dilemmas. We work with a local sawmill that buys its logs from nearby forest restoration projects like the Forest Grove watershed restoration project and the Nature Conservancy's Ellsworth Creek Preserve.
These projects are designed to improve the health of the forest, enabling a return to old growth conditions that were lost decades ago after the first clear cut. (This isn't greenwashing; click the links above to learn more about these excellent restoration programs.)
The logs procured from these restoration projects are second- or third-growth, smaller diameter trees that produce Select Tight Knot grade cedar products, a very high grade with much beauty and durability.
These smaller trees are ideal for tongue-and-groove, bevel, and ship-lap style planks, which require minimal energy resources to mill.
In spite of its decades-long lifespan, cedar is of course biodegradable, taking care of the end-of-life problems that plague vinyl, cement board, and other manufactured siding products.
And because all of our cedar is sourced from forests less than 100 miles from Portland, the carbon costs associated with transporting the materials are minimal, relative to other materials.
Photos below: FSC 100% Western Red Cedar siding, select tight knot
Photo at bottom: Cedar finished with the shou sugi ban charring technique
When most folks embark on a building project, deliberately setting the wood on fire doesn't immediately come to mind as a brilliant move.
But when the desired outcome is a significantly extended lifespan, lighting the wood on fire is a great idea!
The technique has been around for centuries. Known in Japan as shou sugi ban, this style of finishing wood can extend the life of your cedar siding by many decades -- up to 80 years in exposed applications.
It also looks beautiful and provides a dramatic contrasting color to an otherwise predictable installation, with none of the added chemicals or annual re-application needed with a stain.
The projects shown in these photos use our FSC Western Red Cedar. The technique can be applied to other wood species as well, such as Douglas and others with a distinctive grain pattern. Check out how Pioneer Millwork applied shou sugi ban to oak.
For more inspiration, check out these photos on Pinterest, and read architect Michelle Jeresek's post on Houzz to see how to do it.
Wood from our network of small mills made a star showing at Green Build last month. The 30,000+ attendees of the Expo at San Francisco's Mscone Center beheld a beautiful, modern off-grid house that was sided in locally harvested Western Red Cedar.
The Paradigm, a LEED Platinum prefab structure built by Seattle's Method Homes, is net zero water and energy and is designed to fit into different spaces, including urban backyards as an ADU and remote, off-grid sites as a vacation home.
It features many gorgeous green features including zero VOC paints and finishes, no added formaldehyde cabinetry and plywood, and a 5,000 gallon rainwater harvesting tank.
But the most striking feature is the FSC 100% Western Red Cedar siding that encases the sculptural walls, sourced from our network of small mills.
This cedar comes from forest restoration projects just outside Portland.
Click here to read more about Method Homes' Paradigm Series and its cutting-edge design.
Photo at left: A close-up of the siding and its interesting angled design. The whitewash finish is by Sherwin Williams.
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!
Now that it's officially springtime, it's time think about what you're going to do for your back yard and garden this year. If you're shopping for lumber for decking, fences, arbors, or raised garden beds, be sure to ask about our Western Red Cedar!
Sustainable Northwest Wood's Western Red Cedar is FSC Pure and is sourced from restorative forestry projects within 100 miles of Portland's city limits. It is cut as part of forest restoration projects that are designed to restore the health of the forest by opening the canopy and promoting diversity in tree species and age range.
Much of our cedar comes from the Nature Conservancy's Ellsworth Creek Preserve, from the Forest Grove watershed restoration program, and from the Homestead Girl Scout camp in Zigzag. We partner with small, family-owned mills to source the logs and cut and dry the lumber.
Cedar is an excellent choice for outdoor projects and offers many years of beauty and durability. Much like juniper, cedar is naturally high in aromatic oils that repel insects and slow decay, but offers a more refined look with a silky, strawberry-blonde grain. It is ideal for chemical-free raised garden beds and other uses where homeowners wish to avoid pressure-treated lumber.
- 2x4 surfaced decking
- 2x6 surfaced decking
- 4x4 rough, full dimension
- 1x6 rough fence board
- Custom sizes and profiles
Photos, from top left: A home in Southeast Portland boasts a cedar fence and living wall; the deck at the home in Beaver Creek is made of our cedar; a cedar nurse log hosts a young tree at an FSC forest 40 miles from Portland.