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Use Eco-Friendly Wood for Your Home Improvement Project

written by: Sage Kalmus•edited by: Donna Cosmato•updated: 7/6/2011

So you’re thinking about adding on a room, or a new home improvement project, great! This is the perfect time to also think about making your project green. One of the best ways to do this is to find and use eco-friendly wood as wood is likely the largest integral part to your construction project.

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    What is Eco-Friendly Wood?

    It is wood that has been grown and harvested in such a manner that the wood is a sustainable product. It is farmed with the intention for re-growth. Unfortunately, much of the forestry wood grown globally is not farmed in a sustainable manner. According to Common Sense Solutions, Inc., only 3% of the world's forestlands are managed in some way. The U.S. and Africa have each lost about one-third of their forests, while Brazil, the Philippines, and Europe have lost 40%, 50% and 70%, respectively. It is estimated that China will, in 10 years time, lose all of its commercial forests.

    Where to find Eco-Friendly Wood

    Call your local home improvement store. Ask them if they carry lumber and wood products approved by the Forest Stewardship Council, or FSC. The FSC has the highest standards the industry’s most stringent third-party audit requirements. Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) and the Canadian Standards Association’s Sustainable Forest Management certifications are also available but their certification standards are not as strict. However, you should accept their certification over non-certified wood.

    Eco-Friendly Wood Choices

    Using local U.S. grown wood for your green building material is going to be better managed over imported wood. Certifications aside, the carbon footprint alone will be smaller with wood that isn’t shipped overseas.

    Another option is to go with reclaimed wood. Many older homes that are being razed for new construction now are being scavenged for “parts”. These “parts” include solid wood doors, cabinets, hardwood flooring, moldings etc. And like everything else, they don’t make wood like they used to. You can pick up incredibly beautiful wood pieces that will find new life in your new project.

    Non-wood Green Builiding Material Choices

    Bamboo, which is a rapidly renewable material, is made into flooring, cutting boards, cabinets, and even textiles. Other rapidly renewable materials are strawboard, which are panels made from straw materials and do not contain harmful chemicals that can outgas; and wheatboard which can be used to replace formaldehyde emitting MDF.

    Be Part of the Solution

    Forest loss is a large contributor to global warming. Further, eco-systems are destroyed, land is eroded and wildlife loses its habitat. By choosing to build with eco-friendly wood and green building materials for your home improvement project, you are choosing to be part of the solution and not a thoughtless contributor to our global eco-problems.

    For more information on green building and design Click Here.