Sustainability Case

Structural Round Timber is a byproduct of sustainable forest management. Thinning forest stands of suppressed, invasive, or genetically duplicate trees allows the woodland as a whole to thrive, catalyzing growth and biodiversity. With new markets for forest thinnings, local economies prosper from the presence of continued regional harvesting and new fabrication jobs, and sustainable forest management is prioritized. A tree can absorb as much as 48 pounds of carbon dioxide per year and can sequester 1 ton of carbon dioxide by the time it reaches 40 years old. By choosing SRT in your construction project, you can directly incentivize sustainable timber stand improvements that increase the carbon storage capacity of our forests. Round timber also sequesters carbon in service. The climate can benefit not only from CO2 sequestration in large commercial structures, but also from the stabilization of microclimates within highly productive forests.

Image Credit: @kstevens1986

Business Case

SRT offers a regenerative solution to forested economies when harvested from well-managed forests and supplied to construction job sites via regional forestry and fabrication networks. The built environment needs low embodied carbon/carbon sequestering materials, and our planet needs climate-smart forestry. SRT connects construction market demand to sustainable forestry by applying technology to the inherent strength of unmilled trees – which are 50% stronger than a comparable cross section of milled lumber. SRT products provide beautiful, affordable, and durable biophilic structural systems which also restore forests.

Ashland is the gateway to millions of acres of working forests in the state of Maine. These forests support hundreds of jobs (loggers, haulers, production employees at mills, land managers, foresters, etc…) and contribute millions of dollars into the local economies of the area. Continued sustainable management of these working forests rely on robust and plentiful markets for both high value and importantly lower value timber such a pulpwood. 

Markets for lower value wood from Maine’s forests help to continue the legacy of sustainable management by allowing landowners to harvest and thin their timber, removing lower quality stems, and improving the overall health and vigor of the forest. 

SRT provides a new value-added market for some of the lower value wood that is a product of sustainable forest management. SRT has the potential to create dozens of well-paying, skilled jobs, which for a smaller, rural community like Ashland will have a meaningful impact.

More markets for wood fiber means landowners will be able to continue the legacy of managing their timber, helping to provide stability for the logging and hauling community.   

Maine’s forests have a large potential role to play in the state’s climate change mitigation efforts. Strong wood products markets are a key piece of our forests’ ability to contribute. Working, sustainably managed forests sequester and store large amounts of carbon, and when products like SRT are harvested, they continue to store carbon in long lived applications like beams, trusses, support columns, and other architectural and structural products. Further, harvesting of trees in the forest encourages regeneration of fast growing, younger trees, which continue the cycle of sequestering and storing carbon. 

Significant long-term impacts for Northern Maine Forests extend beyond this initiative if SRT Market Development efforts can build awareness and markets that then incentivize other forest communities to ramp up production of SRT following examples in Ashland Maine.  

An important aspect of SRT production that differentiates it from other structural products is the amount of costs that stay in the forested community.  Using data from fabrication models in Wisconsin and the Pacific Northwest, over 60% of SRT production costs and profits can stay in the forested community.  These costs fall into the following categories: 

  • Timber Purchase
  • Timber Value-add
  • SRT grading, fabrication, finishing
  • Steel fabrications
  • Shipping and logistics

Image Credit: WholeTrees

Aesthetic Case

SRT demonstrates a commitment to the environment and an appreciation for natural beauty. Stunningly unique, these elements can make an unforgettable statement of mission and values within your space. With a material makeup of approximately 50% carbon, SRT products bring 100% delight.

Neuroscience and Biophilia

One of the most well-known of the approaches to nature-based and wellness-focused architecture is biophilic design. While the overall goal of designing buildings that promote the well-being of occupants is not new, the concept of biophilic design has only been around since the 1980s, when an evolutionary biologist named Edward O. Wilson introduced the philosophy via his book, Biophilia. – Source

Americans spend about 90 percent of their time inside. As a result, building professionals are rethinking how people design, use and occupy buildings. Biophilic design is increasingly used to boost occupant well-being through connection to nature and the use of natural elements like daylight, plants, water and exposed wood. These elements have been attributed to positive outcomes in humans—from reducing stress to boosting productivity. Today, this emerging trend is increasingly a market expectation, with tenants seeking sustainable, functional and aesthetically pleasing features throughout their offices, homes, retail and hospitality spaces. – Source

As a naturally biophilic material, trees have the advantage of being a low-impact, renewable resource that is both strong and versatile in a variety of building applications. It has been shown that trees in community spaces promote public health. Stands of trees have a tendency to draw people in, inviting them to pause, observe, and interact with each knot and branch instead of merely passing through the space. The sense of awe and wisdom of the forest becomes a useful facet of biophilic design, where trees are strategically employed as visual and structural elements that can literally bring visitors back in touch with nature. Indeed, architects have begun to incorporate whole trees as design features in high-design projects as well as simple urban installations. – Source


Image Credit: WholeTrees