Today my alma mater Southern Methodist University celebrates a new master’s degree program in sustainability and development. The degree covers sustainability-related topics from policy to design in both developed and developing worlds. SMU will kick off the endeavor mid-day Friday with London sustainability strategist Peter Bishop and the unveiling of a low-cost Pallet House prototype designed by I-Beam Design.
London and Dallas-based Accsys Technologies recently announced a new variant of the modified wood product Accoya, but this one is made with North American red alder. The company puts wood through a proprietary acetylation process in whichwood molecules that want to bond with water are replaced with more stable acetyl groups. This improves durability, hardness, water absorption, and dimensional stability.
Wood is a desirable construction material for many reasons including its low embodied energy. But, until recently, it has not been possible to build tall wooden structures because of the relative weakness of conventional wood stud construction methods. This is starting to change as a new method of fabricating wood panels, called cross-laminated timber, or CLT, is making “massive wood” construction a possibility for mid-rise construction, as well as for other construction uses.
Oregon-based Viridian Wood Products, maker of shipping pallet flooring, recently introduced a line of new architectural-grade veneer panels made with reclaimed North American wood. The 4′x8′ panels include old-growth redwood previously used in wine tanks, Oregon black walnut reclaimed from urban salvage, and old-growth Douglas fir from warehouse deconstruction.
Colorado has millions of acres of pines throughout its forests that have been killed by an infestation of beetles. New Town Builders, a residential homebuilder in Denver, Colorado, has begun using salvaged wood from these trees for the structural framing of homes it is constructing. The company was approached about building a single demonstration home using wood from lodgepole pine trees which had been killed by the mountain pine beetle. New Town found that the wood was discolored but structurally sound and has now begun using the “blue wood” for all of their framing.
True to the company name, California-based Kirei USA recently announced a beautiful, new material for 2012 called Windfall. Windfall is an engineered wood panel made with a low-VOC adhesive and lumber from deconstructed buildings in the Pacific Northwest. It’s suitable for wall paneling, casework, signage, and other similar applications.