April 19, 2006
Wednesday, April 19th, 6:30-8pm
Where: Hafele Showroom
on Madison Park (25 E. 26th St.)
Tim Keating, Executive Director, Rain Forest Relief
Bart Bettencourt, Bettencourt Green Building Products
Tim Keating from Rainforest Relief and Bart Bettencourt from Bettencourt Green Building Supplies are teaming up for a lecture on responsible wood alternatives. Rainforest Relief works to end the loss of the world’s tropical and temperate rainforests and protect their human and non-human inhabitants by reducing demand for the products of rainforest logging, mining and agricultural conversion, through education, advocacy, research and action. Bettencourt Green Building Supplies is dedicated to providing quality green building materials to designers, architects, contractors and homeowners on the East Coast. Bettencourt provides elegant and appropriate alternatives to many of the environmentally damaging choices currently available in the industry.
We’re embarrassed that a progressive metropolis like New York City is the largest consumer of tropical hardwoods in North America. To help spread the word about alternative wood materials and to remind people that our society, and our city, continues to support deforestation practices, we proudly hosted Tim Keating of Rainforest Relief, and Bart Bettencourt of Bettencourt Green Building Supplies. These speakers presented two ends of the sustainable wood spectrum: how the consumer demand for tropical hardwood is destroying our ecosystem, and how to identify and purchase eco-friendly alternatives in the area.
Tim Keating’s work with Rainforest Relief is exhaustive, alarming, and something that more New Yorkers should be familiar with. Most of us don’t pay any attention to the mahogany doors at Barnes and Noble, or the benches, made from Brazilian walnut that we sit on in local parks. To meet the demand for these invaluable woods, importers are contributing to the decimation of tropical rainforests, and in turn, we are facing the most rapid mass extinction on earth.
To give you some numbers, 50-90% of biodiversity exists exclusively in rainforests (50% being generous). We are destroying 2 Â½ acres of rainforest per second, and about 400 species per day. The majority of that (70%) is due directly to logging and road construction to obtain wood for everything from truck flooring to pencils. At the rate we are going, all unprotected tropical rainforests will be wiped out within 40 years. That leaves 3% of the rainforest standing.
Okay, so now that we’ve introduced you to a very sobering reality, we’d like to illuminate people like Bart Bettencourt, who design and sell sustainable wood options for us New Yorkers. Bart is at the helm of Scrapile, a company that designs awesome furniture comprised of scrap wood, and Bettencourt Green Building Supplies. The latter is a Brooklyn-based company that serves as a resource for cabinet, furniture, and flooring alternatives made out of bamboo, coconut palm, and reclaimed agricultural fibers. While you may conjure up images of grass mats when you think of ‘bamboo flooring’ (I did), the samples that Bart passed around were beautiful, dense, and felt just like wood. He mentioned that the majority of these materials cut, sanded, screwed, held up, joined, and reacted to finishes just like regular wood, too.
Another excellent alternative is recycled plastic lumber, which is more durable, requires less maintenance, and is more environmentally friendly than wood products. Wood makes up much of our national waterfront infrastructure (think pilings, piers, and boardwalks), and has a relatively short lifespan, especially when immersed in water.
Recent advanced-aging tests that found that recycled plastic lumber had no significant deterioration over the course of 50 years. If you’d like to see this material in action, visit the Tiffany Street Pier in the Bronx.
If you’re not in the position to purchase these materials, you still have options. Salvage furniture off the street, or buy secondhand. And if you must, aim to buy wood that is domestic and certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Most importantly, do your homework and choose to support companies that are environmentally friendly and responsible.
January 21, 2004
is co-founder and Executive Director of Rainforest Relief, a
New York-based organization that works through education and direct-action
campaigns to reduce the demand for wood products and materials. Tim has been an environmental activist since the age of 15.
is the owner of CitiLog, a company that uses a
combination of salvaging/urban logging, horse logging methods and FSC
Chain of Custody wood to produce products such as flooring, molding,
timber framing, historical restorations, furniture and lumber.
January 15, 2003
Bina Venkataraman of Rainforest Alliance presented RA’s SmartWood program. Bina’s notes: GREEN BUILDING: Resources for Sourcing and Specifying Certified Wood
[Presentation Topics Survey]
We took a very simple, low-tech survey about topics for future presentations. The most popular of the 22 topics were:
Financial Incentives for Building Green
Can I vote my way to a greener New York?
Big Green Buildings: Conde Nast, 20 River Terrace and friends
Green Building and Affordable Housing
Write-ins included City Building/Zoning Codes and Green Building Market Trends. A surprise dud was the LEED Rating System and Wood Alternatives/Composite Building Materials.
GREEN BUILDING: Resources for Sourcing and Specifying Certified Wood
Certified Forest Products Council Website (www.certifiedwood.org)
Description: The website provides a searchable database of suppliers and certifiers of FSC certified wood products. It also describes the criteria for certification and the process of incorporating certified products into building construction and design.
Two basic resources for architects:
Detailed information on how to specify and document use of certified wood products throughout construction process (â€˜Project Toolkitâ€™)
Market linkages for architects and clients to select supplies and a database of contact information of the suppliers
Project Toolkit: A Manual for Architects (see http://www.certifiedwood.org/search-modules/CertForests.asp
The website provides a free download of this manual, which consists of guidelines for specifying certified wood used in a particular project. Project Toolkit specifies how to document and search for suppliers of FSC certified products. It provides sample specification language, as well as sample invoices and documentation spreadsheets. It also details how to bid for materials when the supply of FSC certified wood is limited and provides a bid compliance form. A case study is included that describes in narrative form how certified wood products can be incorporated into a project.
Market Linkages: Searching for SuppliersThe website allows online searches for sources of FSC certified products. You can search by location (anywhere in the world) and also by region where wood is harvested (this may help meet the criteria of local wood quantities for LEED certification). Location searches require you to specify level on the supply chain: woodworker, retailed, primary or secondary manufacturer, distributor, forest owner or manager, broker/agent. Although currently no specific search for â€˜architectâ€™ is included in this list, architects have the ability to search for suppliers on behalf of their clients, or can direct the client to this site.The site also has product type searches, where the architect can choose from categories such as decking, furniture, housewares, chips, paper, flooring. When one type is selected, a list of suppliers is produced. For each supplier, you are given complete contact information, a supplier profile, and a full product listing. Nevertheless, this listing does not reflect current inventories, but is rather the entire range of FSC certified products and species the vendors could supply. For current availability, the suppliers must be directly contacted.
An example of the outcome of a search: If you select Engineered Wood Products from the listed product types, a list of 62 certified companies in 22 countries comes up. (The category includes I-Joists and I-Beams, Trusses, Laminated Wood Products). Another example: If you select Doors, 138 certified suppliers in 28 companies comes up. You can also narrow the search to accessories, interior or exterior doors, or specialty doors. For each supplier company, you can access a profile describing size, product line, and other relevant information.
Finally, the website also allows searches by certifier (for example, Smartwood). The profiles of each certifier are provided, and the architect can compare and contrast the criteria used by various certifiers before searching the database of suppliers.
US Green Building Council Website (www.usgbc.org/LEED)
Description: Through the LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Rating System, USGBC certifies buildings (not the individual products used to construct them) based on voluntary, consensus-based national standards for assessing building performance and adherence to sustainability goals.
Two areas are of relevant interest to architectural community:
LEED Rating System Manual, which describes certification process and criteria in order for building projects to qualify
Workshops and Conferences that architects can attend to share insight on projects and learn about emerging green technologies and materials
LEED Rating System ManualCertified Wood provides one point under the â€˜Materials and Resourcesâ€™ category of qualifying criteria for LEED certification. (p.29 of Rating System Manual: https://www.usgbc.org/LEED/Project/project_list.asp
) A minimum of 50% wood-based materials must be FSC certified, and documentation is required of builders that specifies sources and quantifies certified wood based materials.In addition, points can be earned for materials harvested, recovered, or extracted within 500 miles. This encourages the use of locally grown wood products. (Must account for 50% of regional materials used). Points can also be earned for salvaged or refurbished materials used. (p.25).
The rating system awards up to 69 points for a range of criteria including sustainable sight, stormwater management, indoor environmental quality, recycled content, use of renewable energy, water efficiency, and erosion control. The Manual specifies those criteria required for certification. Basic certification requires 26 to 32 points, whereas advanced ratings require additional points up to 69.
Workshops and ConferencesThe USGBC provides workshops nationwide for engineers, architects, and the building industry.
The workshops train professionals in the LEED rating system and accreditation process and describe methods of incorporating green building strategies. Workshop training also outlines the benefits of green building and certification. Attendees receive discounted resources on sustainable building design.The First Annual USGBC Green Building Expo and Conference will take place this November 13th thru 15th in Austin, Texas. Major topics will include: leading green technologies, educational programs on the benchmarks of sustainability, products available on the market, and financing of projects. Areas of emphasis will include: water use, energy, materials, indoor environmental quality, biophelia, and health and productivity. (See detailed schedule: http://www.usgbc.org/Expo/Schedule/usgbc_expo_schedule.pdf
Web pages of Interest
Overview of LEED certification process
Link to LEED Rating System Manual, with description of requirements
Description of workshops available to help architects master LEED process and learn more about green design and construction
Calendar of Training Workshops for LEED certification process
Upcoming Conferences on Green Building and the LEED rating system
Agenda for First Annual USGBC Green Building Conference: Austin, TX Nov.13-15, 2002
List of LEED certified projects
List of contacts for Green Builders/Sources for Materials
Forest Stewardship Councilâ€™s Principles and Criteria for Certified Wood
CERTIFIED FOREST PRODUCTS COUNCIL:
Guidelines for Specifying Certified Wood For Architects and Download Site for â€˜Project Toolkitâ€™
Case study of Certified Wood Specified Building Project
Online Directory for FSC Certified Forest Product Suppliers/Materials (lists by product type)
Online Search Directory for FSC Certified Suppliers (by location around world)
Online Search Directory for FSC Certified Products by Certifier