Laureen Blissard, technical director for the GreenBuilder Coalition and principal of LTLB Envirotecture of Naperville, IL, is a strong advocate of environmental sustainability, including urban wood utilization.
“I have only worked on a few urban wood projects from start to finish, but whenever an opportunity presents itself, I advocate for its use,” Blissard told the Urban Wood Network. “For example, when we are brought in at the beginning of a residential construction project and see the trees that need to be cleared from the property. Many times they are fully grown and great candidates for lumber. I also participate in speaking engagements to promote how architects can incorporate urban wood into a design.”
Blissard is a LEED-certified architect and has been active with the Illinois Wood Utilization Team. She said Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design has been a driver for incorporating urban wood in some building projects. “Those interested in LEED tend to focus on one point when it comes to wood — if it is certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) as coming from a responsibly managed forest. If urban wood does not have FSC certification they won’t go for it. But urban wood can help a project pick up several points in other LEED categories, such as recycled materials, reclaimed materials, and locally manufactured and harvested resources. That last LEED characteristic of ‘local’ can be a key opportunity — especially now that LEED v4 reduces what is considered the local radius from 500 miles to 100 miles. Ultimately, the real challenge is figuring out how to fit urban wood into the LEED program and then working with people to get them past the misconception that if it is not FSC certified that it can’t qualify for points.”