Are you building or remodeling your home? Want to minimize your environmental impact? If you live in the Pacific Northwest, you may wish to consider the Build Local Alliance. This organization connects architects, property owners, contractors and lumber yards in what has been described as a “local-only supply chain.”
With the Build Local Alliance, potential buyers can find quality, sustainable reclaimed wood products. But even if “going green” is not a major goal of yours, you may still want to shop through the group to find high-end building materials at reasonable prices.
One of the founding partners of the Alliance, Peter Hayes observes:
“In the same way the local food movement is driven by quality, a lot of this is driven by builders and customers just wanting quality material. Its not necessarily about saving the Earth or a certain type of forestry. Its about a quality product.”
Reclaimed wood is the ultimate in recycling. Whether you purchase “new” wood from tree species that have been cleared for road work, other construction or industrial forests, or “old” wood that has been previously used for structures, its a way to efficiently re-use materials that may otherwise be discarded. In particular, the Build Local Alliance is focused on trees harvested from eco-friendly forest management. The concept is explained in this video:
With the Build Local Alliance, entities come together in a win-win approach to best serve everyone’s diverse needs. For example, Mr. Hayes is a timber land owner. He engages in ecological practices in managing his land, which include planting a diversity of species to protect water quality and wildlife habitat. When clearing maple trees from the property (commonly done in order to harvest commercial species), he then sells the wood to other members of the Alliance so that they can create gorgeous maple floors and cabinets with the reclaimed woods.
There is also a sense of pride of using local products in your home construction. The Build Local Alliance aims to connect customers to local wood sources without the necessity of making a special order. For this reason, you’ll have to live in California, Oregon or Washington to participate – unless and until similar organizations are created in other areas of the country. With local wood, much like the local food movement, you know that your lumber has not traveled thousands of miles before sale.
You can expect to pay about 5-25% more for sustainable wood products locally grown or certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC certified). But with increasing efficiency in production, costs will come down. And, even with today’s economic climate, there is a large demand for locally-grown, sustainable homebuilding materials.
The members of the Build Local Alliance hope that one day, it will be as common practice to look for a locally grown 2X4 as it is to shop for locally grown tomatoes. Those that are already doing so agree that its a small price to pay in order to support responsible forestry and local businesses.