Category: News

Urban Wood Use Action Guide Is Chock-Full of Resources

Photo: Urban Industrial NW

Vibrant City Labs has created the Urban Wood Use Action Guide, a new web-based platform dedicated to helping communities develop plans to utilize urban and deconstructed wood.

“Using recovered and fresh-cut urban wood to build and sustain vibrant communities.” is the site’s tagline.

Highlights of the guide include: 

  • Case studies, such as how Elkhart, IN, created value for urban wood in the wake of the emerald ash borer invasion.
  • Research on economic impact, waste management, product reuse and other urban wood topics.
  •  Urban Forestry Toolkit, a curated index of digital tools, apps, and calculators for urban forestry.
  •  Ssearchable library containing a curation of research papers, guides, ordinances and other resources deemed most helpful in making the case for urban forestry or making it happen in a community.

Access the Urban Wood Use Action Guide.



Alabama Sawyer Fills Big Order for Gulf State Park Eatery

Alabama Sawyer, a company devoted to converting removed urban trees into fine furniture, provided dining tables, a hostess stand, bench and other products for a restaurant at Gulf State Park in Baldwin County, AL.

The Birmingham-based company says it crafted all of the furnishings with Alabama white oak and pine.

Alabama Sawyer also manufactured an urban wood conference table for the new Lodge at Gulf State Park. The 350-room Hilton Hotel achieved Gold LEED status in December.

Learn more about Alabama Sawyer at alasaw.com.

 



Wisconsin Urban Wood Assists $10K Tree Planting Project

MADISON, WI – Volunteers and representatives of Wisconsin Urban Wood (WUW), Dane County Parks and Catalent Pharma Solutions recently planted 250 trees at the Prairie Moraine County Park in Verona, WI.

WUW received a $10,000 donation from Catalent’s Corporate Responsibility Grants Committee to plant the trees in an effort to help offset the environmental impact of eliminating 250 trees during Catalent’s recent site expansion. Wisconsin Urban Wood worked with Dane County Forester Specialist Adam Alves to coordinate the planting. Alves and his staff will maintain the planting as it grows into a producing orchard.

Wisconsin Urban Wood (WUW) is an organization committed to the social economic and ecological benefits of urban trees. WUW’s motto is Trees First, Wood Next. WUW members like Dane County share the understanding that trees are most beneficial to communities when those trees are growing healthy and strong, but when urban trees must be removed due to circumstance, WUW’s goal is to find the highest use for the removed wood. WUW consists of a partnership of municipalities, arborists, sawyers, kiln operators, makers, artisans, retailers, architects, organizations and advocates who work toward this goal.

Wisconsin Urban Wood is committed to the social, economic, and ecological benefits of urban trees. Partners share a distinct understanding that trees are most beneficial to communities when those trees are growing, healthy and strong. When urban trees have to be removed due to disease, pests or circumstance, our goal is to find those uses that best benefit our local communities. We connect those trees with local processors and woodworkers so the trees can be used for their highest and best uses in lumber, flooring, furniture, art, architecture, and a variety of goods made from wood.

Repurposing urban trees after they are removed changes the way industry sees its supply chain. People who manage urban forests and those that use wood in their projects are finding opportunities to connect and partner toward building new urban forest product markets, building stronger relationships between clients, consumers and communities in the process. Wisconsin Urban Wood is working to build common understanding, language, commitment and consumer confidence in an urban wood brand shared by our membership. We are poised to help individuals and businesses looking to expand their operation or start a new business dedicated to urban wood.

WUW is a Wisconsin DNR Green Tier Charter Member. The WDNR Green Tier program is a free, voluntary program which helps businesses achieve superior environmental performance through environmental management systems. Wisconsin Urban Wood is the flagship member of the Urban Wood Network which serves local urban wood associations and individual members throughout the United States and beyond.



CHICAGO FURNITURE MAKER DIGS THE VIBE OF URBAN WOOD


Brian Keith Ellison’s passion for design steered him away from a career in real estate development and toward launching BKE Designs to manufacture one-of-a-kind furniture pieces. Many of the pieces he fabricates at his Chicago studio incorporate urban wood reclaimed from greater Chicagoland’s urban forests.

Ellison said he has been using urban wood in some of his projects for about 10 years. Two recent examples of custom furniture BKE Designs designed and fabricated with urban wood are shown here. In each case the wood was milled by Horigan Urban Forest Proctus of Skokie, IL.

The first is a conference table for which Ellison book matched a pair of 11-foot by 24-inch live-edge white oak planks. 

The second is a custom console/entertainment unit which Ellison said was fabricated using an approximately 5-foot black walnut live-edge piece.

Ellison explained why he chose to use urban wod for each of the pieces created for separate clients. “The aesthetic goal of the designs made this material most appropriate.”

Ellison, who holds a degree in architecture from the University of Illinois-Chicago, honed his woodworking skills in high school. After 15 years in the real estate development industry, Ellison made a dramatic life changing move to Amsterdam to focus on woodworking and design full time. There he collaborated with the late Dutch designer Faas van Dijk for two years.

In addition to running BKE Designs, Ellison creates public art and volunteers his time to conduct woodworking workshops including for local youth and the Safer Foundation, a non-profit provider of services designed exclusively for people with criminal records.

for Learn more about BKE Designs.



Chicago Plans to Inventory Urban Forest Canopy in 2020

Photo: Morton Arboretum

The Chicago Department of Streets and Sanitation plans to conduct a comprehensive inventory of the city’s urban forest canopy next year.

While the stated objective of the audit is to help create a more effective tree trimming schedule, information gathered should also be of great interest to arborists and tree care professionals, as well as businesses dedicated to urban wood utilization.

In a Sept. 27 letter to Inspector General Joseph Ferguson, John Tully, DOS commissioner, writes, “To continue to improve tree trimming operations, in the upcoming 2020 budget year, the Bureau of Forestry will work to develop a comprehensive tree inventory of the entire City canopy, which currently does not exist. This will provide valuable information regarding the number and location of trees as well as size and species. It will also provide information about electric wire interference within the canopy helping to inform the daily scheduling process for tree trimming and removals as well as the Department’s response to weather-related events.”

In an Oct. 30 press release, Ferguson called the tree canopy inventory a “step in the direction.” He added, however, “But (this) is only a starting point for an urgently needed generational re-assessment of the management of the City’s dwindling urban forest whose canopy is substantially smaller than many cities nationally. We strongly encourage DSS to re-evaluate the Monitor Group report the City invested in a decade ago, and work towards seriously implementing the recommendations for a grid-based approach to tree trimming. The benefits of more horticulturally precise and cost-effective tree trimming are substantial for the City and its potential for cost savings, optimized use of taxpayer-funded resources, and preventable liabilities. A thriving and healthy urban forest is critical to mitigating ever-mounting climate change concerns like the urban heat island effect and excessive storm water runoff, and recent studies have revealed stark differences across City neighborhoods that generally correlate with tree canopy percentages.”The Monitor Group report referenced by Ferguson found that DSS has largely used a reactive 311 caller request-based approach to identify trees for trimming. As a result of scheduling tree trimming on a case-by-case basis, city crews spend an inordinate amount of their time traveling to tree trimming sites, resulting in backlogs, allowing for many trees to go untrimmed for than a decade and some wards of the city receiving less tree trimming service than others.

According to the press release, OIG recommended that DSS employ suggestions found in Monitor Group’s report, which details the benefits of switching from the current reactive request system to a grid-based approach. This new approach (previously used by the City and commonplace for most municipal urban forestry programs) would make the Bureau of Forestry much more efficient, reducing the average crew’s travel time by 35% and the average cost per tree trim by 60%. It would also result in arborists determining how best to manage the urban forest rather than safety-driven resident calls, which constitutes an important added level of input to proper holistic management. In response, DSS stated that it will work to develop a comprehensive tree inventory of the entire City canopy within the next year, which will provide valuable information regarding the number and location of trees as well as size and species. However, DSS did not commit to switching to a grid-based approach, stating that it would require 15-20 additional crews to transition to this system, on a cycle of 7-10 years.



Urban Wood Standards & Certification Highlight Webcast

The latest in the ongoing efforts to develop North American urban wood standards and certification was presented during the Oct. 8 Urban Wood Utilization webinar organized by the USDA Forest Service.

The two-hour program is now available on-demand.

Jennifer Alger, president of Urban, Salvaged & Reclaimed Woods, provided the update on Standards for Certification and Chain of Custody (CoC) for urban lumber that have been in the works for over a year. She said a 60-day public comment period that closed on Sept. 30 garnered feedback from stakeholders across the country and Canada.

Alger said the proposed urban lumber standards cover definitions, processing, grading, drying and chain of custody requirements. She said the standards and related certification is needed not only to create guidelines for properly managing the urban wood movement from tree removal through the lumber mill. Certifying urban lumber that meets the standards will help build awareness about urban wood’s socio-economic and environmental benefits in the marketplace.

The webinar also shed more light on the strengthening of cooperation among urban wood groups across the country. The Urban Wood Network has created a steering committee comprised of Alger, representing the west region; Joe Lehnen, forest utilization and marketing specialist for the Urban Wood Program of Virginia, east region representative; and Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products, Wisconsin representative.

Other presentations of the webinar included:

  • Outreach to Urban Wood Consumers in Wisconsin & Urban Wood Network Update by Don Peterson, executive director of Renewable Resource Solutions. 
  • Far West Forest Products – Using Salvage Wood (Wood Innovation Grant) by Alger.

  • CalFire Urban Wood Grant at work in San Diego by Cody Harrison, beyond sustainability specialist at Corona Enterprises and Tom Hamilton, CEO of LumberCycle.

The webinar was moderated by Ann Sarnecki, partnership coordinator of the USDA Forest Service, Forest Products Laboratory, in Madison, WI.

Watch Webinar

 



Wudeward’s Owner Shares Vision & Passion for Urban Wood in Podcast

Dwayne Sperber, owner of Wudeward Urban Forest Products of Milwaukee, WI, was the featured guest of a recent Woodpreneur podcast, produced by Acre of Timbers.

Sperber is well known on the urban wood scene for his passionate involvement with Wisconsin Urban Wood and the Urban Wood Network. Wudeward is a business focused on supplying Wisconsin Urban Wood to architects, designs, builders and wood product manufacturers. 

Among many other things, Sperber presents his views of the current state of the urban wood movement, tips for developing a local urban wood network and how adopting industry standards – which are in the works – will help propel market demand for urban wood in the future.

Listen or watch the podcast.



Video: Palomar College’s Urban Wood Sawmill

Video: The Telescope

  

For the past four years students of Palomar College’s Cabinet & Furniture Technology program have been utilizing urban wood in their projects.

Through a grant from Cal Fire, the San Marcos, CA, educational institution’s Urban Forestry Department has been using a Wood-Mizer portable sawmill to mill logs from urban trees removed  throughout the San Diego area.

According to the department’s website, Palomar College established an urban wood products facility in 2000 to expose and educate students and generate community participation in the process of recycling trees in a sustainable forest.

The sawmill has helped salvage wood otherwise destined for landfills including redwood, ash, black acacia, sycamore, pecan, black oak and white oak. Most of the logs are cut into 4 quarter and 8 quarter slabs and the dry kilned for about four weeks. Then the wood is made available for sale to students in the furniture can cabinet program. Proceeds from these sales are used to help sustain the program.

Learn more about Palomar College’s Urban Forestry program.



Hoppe Tree Service Opens Second Urban Wood Lab

Hoppe Tree Service of West Allis, WI, recently celebrated the grand opening of its second Urban Wood Lab retail store. The new store is located at 195 27th St., Caledonia.

Hoppe Tree Services is a member of the Wisconsin Arborist Association and Wisconsin Urban Wood. The company opened its first urban lumber retail store in West Allis in 2015. More recently, the company added a sawmill to mill locally removed trees into lumber.

In addition, to its own milling operation, Hoppe is working with other members of Wisconsin Urban Wood to sell lumber, natural edge slabs, furniture and other items produced from locally sourced urban trees on a consignment basis to the public. 

Learn more and view online inventory at the theurbanwoodlab.com.

 



Wood-Mizer’s New SlabMizer Flattens Wide Slabs

With the growing demand for high-quality finished wood slabs in the woodworking industry, Wood-Mizer of Indianapolis introduced the SlabMizer MB200 Slab Flattener ideal for sawmill owners, woodworkers, and professional workshops. Built in the USA, Wood-Mizer said the SlabMizer efficiently surfaces and flattens wood slabs, boards, burls, cookies, and other wide material with minimal labor.

Compared to a traditional router or planer, Wood-MIzer said the SlabMizer flattens wider and thicker material up to 56 inches wide and 8 inches thick in less time using powered cutter head directional controls with variable feed speed. For larger capacity, a 5-foot modular table extension can be added to increase the material length. The company said a 72-inch width option is coming soon. 

SlabMizer Features

  • 56-inch maximum material width and 8-inch maximum thickness

  • 13-foot material length or longer with 5-foot modular table extensions 

  • Powered cutter head directional controls with variable feed speed or manual feed

  • 5,500 rpm 5-inch cutter head with five four-sided carbide knives

  • Orbital sanding head attachment for fine finishes

Greg Bacon, sales director of Wood-Mizer, said, “The SlabMizer satisfies the needs of operations producing high-value finished slabs and reduces the manual labor required to finish these wide slabs that are extremely valuable in the woodworking industry.”

For more information, visit woodmizer.com.