Transforming the Market for Certified Wood Products
Completed in June 2007, the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center (ALLC) is the headquarters for the Aldo Leopold Foundation, and is located one mile from the famous Leopold Shack. Aldo Leopold, for whom the Center and Foundation are named, graduated from the Yale Forestry School in 1909 and was widely respected as a leader in the field of wildlife ecology and management in the 1930’s and 40’s. Leopold’s most widely recognized accomplishments are his famous collection of essays entitled A Sand County Almanac and his ecological restoration project at the Leopold Shack. Leopold and his family demonstrated their commitment to a land ethic through the purchase of an abused farm, worn-out through years of neglect. The Leopold family worked to restore the health of the land, most dramatically by planting thousands of pine trees.
During the design phase of ALLC, the Foundation realized the unique opportunity to use site-harvested materials: the very trees that Leopold and his family planted in the 1930’s and 40’s. The Foundation desired to demonstrate their continued land ethic in the stewardship of their lands, and FSC certification provided an important tool for the Foundation’s forestry work. In the end, the site-harvested FSC-certified lumber created a strong physical connection to the Leopold legacy, the Foundation’s land stewardship goals, and their commitment to sustainable design and construc-tion of their new headquarters.
The project expanded market transformation in green building and forest products in a number of tangible ways. In addition to seeking FSC forest management certifica-tion for the Foundation’s forestlands, the ALLC is also a LEED Platinum certified, car-bon neutral facility.
From the perspective of the design and building team, their commitment to using their own site-harvested FSC-certified wood forced the Foundation to consider the value of a forest resource from new perspectives. For example, harvest selections from the forestland were completed prior to architectural plans; in other words, they used what the land provided and amended their architectural plans accordingly, in-cluding the extensive use of red maple throughout the buildings. The low quality trees and heartwood were used to make ceiling decking, while the higher quality, outer portions of the log were used for cabinets and doors. Although red maple (soft maple) is not as durable as sugar maple (hard maple), their millwork partners found it worthy of use.
In another example of market transformation, the pines planted by the Leopold Fam-ily presented another challenge to the process as they were small in diameter and quite tall. Typically, the market for whole logs in construction tends toward larger di-ameter trees, with the smallest useable pieces being 8 inches in diameter. Recently, US Forest Service scientists have been piloting projects us-ing small diameter whole log construction, with diameters ranging from 6-8 inches in di-ameter. Because of these pro-jects, the Center’s project engi-neers gained confidence in the material and were able to use the smaller diameter logs. Not only did this allow them to util-ize much more of the site-harvested FSC-certified mate-rial, but demonstrated appro-priate and necessary wood use.
Suppliers to the Project
Aldo Leopold Foundation
Certified Wood Products, Inc.
H Window Company, LLC
Words of Praise
"The awards are an excellent opportunity to see how de-signers and contractors around the country are promot-ing the use of FSC-certified wood in a variety of project types. The submissions showcased innovative uses of certified wood in both structural and aesthetic applica-tions."
"This year's winner, the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center, ex-ceeded the goals of the award criteria by using 78% FSC-certified wood, site harvested and locally proc-essed certified wood, showed education in the green building industry and growth in the use of certified wood in the community. An outstanding project!"