April 15, 2009 THE VILLADOM TIMES I • Page 35 Home Improvement & Gardening American hardwood can be environmentally friendly (ARA) When it comes to “greening” a new or existing home, many consumers simply do not have the facts about American hardwood as an environmentally friendly building material choice. Wood misconceptions abound. With so much inaccurate information being circulated, the American Hardwood Information Center (www.HardwoodInfo. com) would like to set the record straight about American hardwoods. The absolute bottom line is this. Because hardwoods are renewing and so abundant, they are nature’s choice for eco-effective design and building. What does “sustainable” really mean? The federal government’s definition, as stated in Executive Order 13423, says that “sustainable means to create and maintain conditions, under which humans and nature can exist in productive harmony, that permit fulfilling the social, economic and other requirements of present and future generations of Americans.” How does this relate to the hardwood industry and the environmental questions and concerns surrounding it? Here are the facts. Grown in America -- Responsibly Harvested -- Naturally Abundant Hardwoods are the botanical group of trees that have broad leaves, produce a fruit or nut, and generally go dormant in the winter. Requiring a temperate climate, most hardwood forestland is in the eastern half of the U.S. In American hardwood forestry, the predominant harvesting method is single tree selection. By carefully removing individual trees, openings in the forest canopy are created so that more precipitation, sunlight and nutrients reach the forest floor. A trained forester individually selects trees for harvesting and a crew removes the trees with the least disruption to the forest floor. This responsible forest management takes into consideration long-term timber production, while also addressing water quality, wildlife habitat, biodiversity, forest aesthetics and recreational opportunities. The trees reproduce naturally and prolifically. Nearly twice as much hardwood grows each year as is harvested and in the past 50 years, the volume of hardwood in American forests has nearly doubled. Foresters work with the timeline that nature dictates: sustained supply and ongoing replenishment are the result. Environmentally Friendly -- Sustainable Manufacturing Healthy forests are net producers of oxygen, thanks to photosynthesis. Growing trees take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and separate the carbon and oxygen atoms. Trees use the carbon to grow roots, trunk, branches and leaves (a tree uses 1.47 pounds of carbon dioxide to grown a pound of wood) then return the oxygen to the air (giving off 1.07 pounds of oxygen.) This process reduces greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. An acre of trees can remove about 13 tons of dust and gases from the atmosphere and we harvest them because in comparison to building products like steel, aluminum, glass, concrete, brick, wood requires a very small amount of energy to become lumber or other wood products. Advanced technology and responsible manufacturing assures the least wood waste and all wood processing by-products have a use: Tree bark becomes mulch and soil conditioners. Sawdust is sold for animal bedding or fuels the boilers that operate dry kilns. Trimmings are chipped and processed into paper and other products. Small wood pieces are processed or finger-jointed into wood components. Because American hardwoods are just that, American, less energy is required for transport. Importing materials like bamboo, teak or mahogany, grown halfway around the world, requires a lot of energy. Nature’s ‘Greenest’ Choice Perhaps Linda Jovanovich, director of operations of the Hardwood Manufacturers Association, says it best. “Don’t be afraid to choose hardwood flooring for your home, or to ask for solid hardwood furniture. American hardwoods are abundant and sustainable and for centuries have been providing beauty, warmth and functional value for floors, furniture, moldings, millwork, and cabinetry. And wood products are better than carbon neutral. They’re carbon negative. No other material can compare!” To request the 48-page booklet entitled “Sustainable Solutions,” and for more information on American hardwood species and sustainable design, visit the American Hardwood Information Center at www. HardwoodInfo.com. 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