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Horigan Urban Wood Products











Basic Sponsorship








American Society of Landscape Architects




International Woodworking Fair















CEU’s available forASLA and ISA members.


The Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference is scheduled as an all-day affair Friday, March 18 at Hamburger University in Oak Brook, IL. The unique event will highlight opportunities for individuals, businesses, trade groups and public entities to capitalize on the salvage and conversion of community trees into high-valued logs, lumbers and wood products.

JUST ADDED: Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop, 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Thursday, March 17 at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook. Prof. Dan Cassens of the Purdue University Forestry Department will be the featured presenter. The program, being held in special cooperation with the DuPage County Forest Preserve, will include classroom instruction and a portable sawmill demonstration. Registrants of the Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle Conference can save $45 off the $110 registration fee to also attend the Hardwood Lumber Workshop. Attendance for the workshop will be limited to the first 50 signups.

Reserve a Room at the Hyatt Lodge at McDonald’s Campus

Read more about our Conference Sponsors & Supporters.

Start Time Conference Agenda Speaker / Display Info
7:00am Onsite Registration, Badge Pickup & Continental Breakfast Exhibits Open
8:00am Conference Welcome Rich Christianson, Conference Director, Illinois Wood Utilization Team
8:10am Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle – Overview Edith Makra, Chairperson, Illinois Wood Utilization Team
8:45am From Landscape to Lumber: Reclaiming Diminished Trees for Urban Wood John Lough, Senior City Forester, City of Chicago
9:20am Trends in Marketing Wood Products Prof. Dan Cassens, Purdue University Department of Wood Products & Owner of Cassens Lumber LLC
10:00am Refreshment Break Exhibits Open
10:15am Closing the Loop on Urban Wood Utilization Ian Brown, Urban Forestry District Manager, City of Milwaukee
10:45am Commercial Tree Care & Urban Wood – Find Your Niche August Hoppe, President of Hoppe Tree Service & The Urban Wood Lab
11:15am The Urbanwood Project: Developing Markets for Urban Wood in Michigan Jessica Simons, Owner, Verdant Stewardship U Coordinator of the Urbanwood Project of Southeast Michigan
11:45am Lunch / Portable Sawmill Demonstrations by Prof. Dan Cassens Exhibits Open
1:40pm Green Building Programs & Urban Wood Laureen Blissard, Principal, LTLB Envirotecture & Jessica Simon
2:20pm Urban Wood’s Journey from Forest to Classroom, Museum, Gallery, Auction & Home Paul Pettigrew, Studio Associate Professor of Architecture, Illinois Institute of Technology
2:50pm Out of the Woods:How West Chicago Repurposed Storm-Damaged Urban Trees Jeff Perkis, Owner, Story Wood & Senior Project Manager, Chipman Design Architecture
3:15pm Refreshment Break Exhibits Open
3:30pm Custom Woodworking Case Study: Go-to Urban Wood Source for Starbucks, Mariano’s & Others Ken Wier, Owner, i2i Design
4:00pm Metamorphosis: Thermally Modified Urban Lumber Brian Mitalo, Regional Manager, Tournesol Siteworks
4:20pm Growing Partnerships: How the Chicago Park District Is Capitalizing on Urban Lumber Michael Dimitroff, Manager of Art Initiatives, Chicago Park District
4:50pm Closing Remarks & Announcement  of “People’s Choice Winners” of the Urban Wood Products Showcase Edith Makra, Chairperson, Illinois Wood Utilization Team
5:00 pm-  7:00pm Networking Reception Exhibits Open
NOTE: Conference schedule & program subject to change without notice.

Your $150 conference registration fee ($175 on-site) includes:

+ One dozen informative sessions focused on urban wood success stories, opportunities and best practices presented by acknowledged leaders of the urban wood utilization movement.

+ Live portable sawmill demonstration.

+ Tabletop displays hosted by key organizations and suppliers focused on the urban wood marketplace.

+ Urban Wood Products Showcase: Displays of furniture, other wood products and artistic objects crafted from wood milled from community trees.

+ Networking Reception: Forge valuable connections with fellow conference participants.

+ Continental breakfast, morning and afternoon refreshment breaks, lunch and Networking Reception appetizers.

+ $45 discount to also attend the March 17 Hardwood Lumber & Sawmill Workshop at the Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook, IL.

+ Members of the  American Society of Landscapers (ASLA) and International Society of Arboriculture (ISA) qualify for continuing education credits (CEUs).


Show your support for urban wood utilization by investing in an Ash, Oak or Walnut sponsorship package. Each package includes conference registration, a display table and promotional considerations. High-value, low-cost sponsorships, starting at $500, can be purchased through the online registration portal. View Sponsorship Opportunities

More Info

Please direct any questions about the conference program, sponsorship/display opportunities or registration issues to Rich Christianson, conference director, at richc.illinoisurbanwood@gmail.com or phone 773-822-6750.




Conference Presentation Highlights

Bringing the Urban Forest Full Circle – Overview

This presentation will introduce the concept of urban wood and discuss principal issues and opportunities.

  • Urban forests contain valuable wood commodities that potentially can be harvested.
  • To capture the inherent value of urban forests and reclaim valuable wood products, connections must be made between these vital links of the urban wood supply chain: Arborists, Sawyers, Woodworkers, Specifiers and Consumers.
  • How the urban wood industry has much potential to meet consumer demand.
  • How urban wood and urban forestry are different than commercial lumber and traditional forestry.
  • Examples of urban wood businesses and partners working to advance urban wood markets.

Presenter Bio: Edith Makra is the Director of Environmental Initiatives for the Metropolitan Mayors Caucus where she supports local governments in taking environmental actions that lead to regional sustainability. She is founder and Chairperson of the Illinois Wood Utilization Team, where she promotes “full circle urban forestry” to capture value in felled community trees as interior and exterior wood products. She has led the Team to train arborists and woodworkers; engage the public; partner with other states to create markets for urban wood; and led a timber assessment of the Chicago region’s urban forest. The Team was recognized with the Governor’s Sustainability Award in 2013 for notable contributions to sustainability in Illinois.

 From Landscape to Lumber: Reclaiming Diminished Trees for Urban Wood

  • Sources of urban wood are varied but offer a tremendous resource.
  • Understanding the importance of tree removal and recovery capacity is critical to the success of urban log utilization.
  • Harvesting practices that enhance the value of urban wood – while keeping costs down – is the beginning of successful processing.

Presenter Bio: John Lough is senior city forester for the City of Chicago, Department of Streets and Sanitation, Bureau of Forestry. Chicago has approximately 586,000 street trees and generates more than 25,000 tons of wood by-products annually. Lough earned his Master’s degree in Forestry at the University of Illinois and is an International Society of Arboriculture certified arborist. He has worked as an urban Forester for the City of Chicago for the last 18 years and in the arboricultural field for 29 years. Lough currently focuses his attention on integrated pest management, training, wood utilization, and volunteer programs. Lough is also an avid amateur urban-woodworker and promotes the recovery of urban felled trees to inspire the innovative use of this under-recognized resource.

 Trends in Marketing Wood Products

  • How urban wood can move into the lumber market place.
  • Developing markets for lumber and wood products.
  • How drying lumber adds value.
  • Understanding the basic of lumber grade values

Presenter Bio: Dan Cassens is a Professor and Extension Specialist in Wood Products at Purdue University. For the past 30 years, Cassens’ primary responsibility has been conducting educational programs for the industry. In 1990 hereceived the Woodworking Educator of the Year award presented by the Wood Machinery Industry Association. He has also been sponsored by different industrial sources and has conducted research in the areas of preventing stain in hardwood and southern pine lumber, biomass, hardwood log manufacturing techniques, quality control in lumber, veneer checking, stress in trees, and others. Cassens is the author of Manufacturing and Marketing Eastern Hardwood Lumber Produced by Thin Kerf Band Mills. Cassens owns and manages, for timber production, about 200 acres of Indiana hardwoods. Trees from improvement cuttings and storm damaged trees are processed by a Wood-Mizer mill and sold to local woodworkers.

Closing the Loop on Urban Wood Utilization

  • Trees are grown and maintained in municipalities for the benefits they provide during life. But inevitably they will be removed. Learn about the alternative “end of life” options implemented in Milwaukee.
  • Milwaukee diverts 100% of logs to a local sawmill for processing, saving 50% of disposal costs and diverting all wood to the “highest and best use.”
  • Recovered products include furniture grade lumber, flooring, pallets, firewood and mulch.
  • Consumer-driven demand has historically been the limiting factor but those barriers are coming down.

Presenter Bio: Ian Brown is an Urban Forestry District Manager for the City of Milwaukee – Forestry Section. He joined Milwaukee Forestry in 2007 and has worked on a variety of projects including iTree ECO, hyperspectral imagery analysis, comprehensive GIS-based street tree inventory and ash street tree injections. Brown has worked to quantify urban forests for management and increase appreciation for the economic value of the urban canopy.

Commercial Tree Care & Urban Wood – Find Your Niche

This presentation will show the full circle approach that Hoppe Tree Service takes to utilizing Urban Wood in the Milwaukee area: from tree removal to selling wood products to the end consumer.

  • Background: How a “normal” tree service got involved in urban wood utilization.
  • Development: There is no need to re-event the wheel. Stick with what you know and find partners to help.
  • Spread the word: There is a market out there. Just find it!
  • Urban wood can be profitable as a product and can give a commercial tree care company an edge in the marking place.

Presenter Bio: August Hoppe is a third generation arborist and President of Hoppe Tree Service, a full service tree care company in Milwaukee. WI. He is an ISA Certified Arborist, a member of the Wisconsin Urban Forestry Council and President of the Wisconsin Arborist Association. Hoppe Tree Service started its retail urban wood utilization division called The Urban Wood Lab in 2014.

The Urbanwood Project: Developing Markets for Urban Wood in Michigan

  • The emerald ash borer outbreak acted as a catalyst to spur innovation in Michigan’s urban forest products markets.
  • Nontraditional partners have joined together to form an effective network of suppliers, processors and supporters, resulting in the creation of the Urbanwood Marketplace, a successful retail center for sales of urban wood.
  • For nearly a decade, this sales effort has continued to grow, leading to important lessons learned about urban wood market coordination, partnership development, customer interests and product opportunities.

Presenter Bio: Jessica Simons is the owner of Verdant Stewardship, an Ann Arbor, MI-based consulting service that provides project development, management, and grant  writing services to conservation and environmental organizations. She coordinates Michigan’s Urbanwood Project on behalf of Recycle Ann Arbor and manages forest products utilization and marketing programs for the Southeast Michigan RC&D Council. Simons serves as a trustee for the Great Lakes Forest Products Society and is an organizer of the Urban Forest Products Alliance. She holds an M.S. in natural resources from the University of Michigan and a B.A. in biology from West Virginia University.

 Portable Sawmilling Demonstration: Urban Logs to Boards & Slabs

  • Learn how to measure and determine the quality of logs.
  • See how surface indicators (bark distortions) tell you what lies beneath the surface of the log face.
  • Learn what the end of a log tells you about its quality.
  • Obtain basic lumber grading information.
  • Learn how wholesale lumber is priced and what the value of lumber is from a particular log.

Presenter: Dan Cassens, Professor of Wood Products at Purdue University and Owner of Cassens Lumber LLC

 Green Building Programs & Urban Wood

  • Creating urban wood demand: A residential case study
  • Creating a “chain of custody” process for urban wood
  • How to communicate to clients the benefits of using urban wood in their build outs
  • How urban wood fits into LEED and other green building programs

Presenter Bio: Laureen Blissard is the principal of LTLB Envirotecture, for which she has managed or is currently managing the verification for more than 1,000 homes and units that are either “green” certified or in the process of becoming certified. She holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in architecture from the University of Illinois and is a licensed architect. Blissard has built a successful 25-plus-year practice in the design and construction of commercial buildings, multi-family projects, single family homes, and interiors. Her many professional certifications include AIA, ALA and LEED AP Homes. She also serves as technical director of the Green Builder® Coalition and writes for Green Builder® Magazine.

Urban Wood’s Journey from Forest to Classroom, Museum, Gallery, Auction & Home

  • Why promoting urban wood’s use is an important goal for the IIT Architecture program
  • What more than 300 architecture students have learned about urban wood’s potential importance to the architecture profession and building industry
  • Examples of some of the hundreds of furniture and functional design objects that have been exhibited and published introducing urban wood’s potential to the general public

Presenter Bio: Paul Pettigrew is a licensed architect in the states of Illinois, Indiana and Michigan and a member of NCARB. He has been designing and fabricating architecturally specific furniture for more than 25 years. In 1999 he joined the faculty of the first-year architecture studio at the Illinois Institute of Technology of Chicago. He has shared his interest in architecturally specific furniture design and fabrication with IIT Architecture students enrolled in his Architecture & Furniture course, including incorporating urban wood in student projects. Recent research into potential uses of urban wood led to the creation of the Living Tree Project for Crate & Barrel. Pettigrew received his architecture BS from the University of Illinois and his MS from MIT.

Out of the Woods: How West Chicago Repurposed Storm-Damaged Urban Trees

  • Remembering the July 2012 storm devastation and massive tree cleanup of Reed Kepler Park
  • Opportunity from calamity: Brainstorming ideas and partnering with the Illinois Institute of Technology to repurpose wood from the salvaged logs
  • Showcasing reclaimed urban wood products

Presenter Bio: Jeff Perkis is Owner of Story Wood, a custom woodworking business, and Senior Project Manager of Chipman Architecture Design.

 Metamorphosis: Thermally Modified Urban Lumber

  • Opportunities in the specification industry
  • Meeting the sourcing challenge
  • Bridging the differences

Presenter Bio: Brian Mitalo is a Chicago-based regional salesperson for Tournesol Siteworks, a manufacturer of products for commercial landscapes nationwide. He is a licensed commercial irrigation designer and a certified landscape irrigation auditor with extensive industry experience efficiently watering landscapes. Mitalo joined Tournesol Siteworks in 2004, marrying his 25 years of technical and engineered product sales with Tournesol’s focus on solutions for integrating landscaping on, in and around buildings. He is a frequent speaker at industry conferences and events on the design considerations/challenges of on-structure landscaping, benefits of on-structure and urban landscaping, high-efficiency irrigation and drainage control.

Growing Partnerships: How the Chicago Park District Is Capitalizing on Urban Lumber

  • The Arts: Chicago Tree Project; Partner Donations to Benefit the Artist Community; Theaster Gates & The Garfield Park Conservatory Project; CPD Wood Shops
  • Capital Construction & Planning: Maggie Daley Park build-out; Chicago Bear’s Den build-out at Soldier Field; CPD Harbor dock decking using thermally-modified
  • Forestry Operations: Sterling Lumber agreement and win-win relationship (Jim Semelka – Sterling Lumber – Urban Forestry Advocate)

Presenter Bio: Michael Dimitroff is Manager of Art Initiatives for the Chicago Park District, where he coordinates and manages new art acquisitions and the siting logistics of public art and sculpture installations, under the Department of Cultural and Natural Resources. He is a sitting member of the Park Enhancement Committee (PEC) which makes decisions related to park aesthetics, construction, and design continuity. He also chairs the CPD Arts Committee where he partners with CPD colleagues, the City of Chicago, institutions, not-for-profits, galleries and artists in promoting public art. Dimitroff is also is a member of the Wood Utilization.