PORTLAND, Ore. – Two residential projects in the Portland area by Green Hammer will use, top to bottom, wood from responsible sources.
Because home construction typically involves many sources and types of wood, the accomplishment is a major one, and the projects are the first of their kind in the country, according to Stephen Aiguier, president of Green Hammer (http://www.greenhammer.com).
The company is a design/build firm that has been committed to building homes as sustainably as possible since 2002. When a client asked last year that an addition be built only with wood harvested from local or responsibly managed forests, Green Hammer suggested aiming for 100 percent Forest Stewardship Council certified wood. (http://www.fscus.org).
FSC, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmentally sound, socially beneficial and economically prosperous management of the world’s forests, had primarily focused its oversight on raw wood and consumer products made from that wood—chairs, tables and cabinets. Making a standard for a house became the next logical step, Aiguier said.
The conscientious clients, Brian Kirkpatrick and Bettina von Hagen, agreed with Aiguier. “Once I met them, it was a natural fit,” he said.
Up until then, Green Hammer had been specifying about 90 percent FSC-compliant wood. Urban Timberworks (http://www.urbantimberworks.com), Green Hammer’s sister company, is an FSC wood supplier.
Because Green Hammer was committed to sourcing sustainable wood, the contractor had already become the first builder in North America to earn an FSC Chain of Custody certificate, a designation that ensures that FSC certified wood is tracked from certified forests through processing to the end consumer.
The contractor’s commitments did not go unnoticed. Green Hammer was encouraged last year to join the FSC. Green Hammer is the first builder in North American to become a member of the Council,
“We applaud Green Hammer and the whole team working to make the Kirkpatrick-von Hagen project possible,” said Corey Brinkema, president of FSC US. “This type of marketplace transformation will have great benefits in the forest.”
Completed in 2010, the Kirkpatrick-von Hagen project is a 360-sq.ft., two-story live/work addition to a 1926 bungalow in the Sellwood neighborhood of southeast Portland. It was constructed using pre-fabricated panel sections, so the building was erected and dried-in within three days. The addition features FSC-certified wood throughout. Cedar shiplap paneled ceilings, exposed doug fir beams, and cedar siding from a local forest are finished with a clear coat to show its natural beauty. By using wood, the addition meets the highest energy efficiency standard called Passivhaus (www.passivhaus.org).
The project was recently awarded an honorable mention by the FSC for its 2011 residential project awards. It was also a featured home in the Build It Green! Home Tour put on by the City of Portland in September.
The second project Green Hammer is building with entirely sustainable wood is a single-family home in NE Portland that is also aiming for Passive House certification. The framing plan called for joists that up to now were not available with the FSC label. Parr Lumber was able to source the joists from Boise Cascade making the entire framing package FSC. The project is scheduled for completion in 2012.
Green Hammer hopes to make FSC wood the benchmark on all its projects and set the bar for others.
“For me, it is a deep commitment,” Aiguier said. “It is one way to have an affect that is regenerative. We are trying to set an example for the entire building community, saying ‘This is the affect you can have.’ I’m not the only one out there, but I believe it’s my responsibility that we do take a stand when we can.”
Ryan Temple of Sustainable Northwest Wood (http://www.snwwood.com), an FSC wood supplier for Green Hammer, thinks the market is ready, and the supply is available. The market for responsible wood has basically tripled in the last five years or so, Temple said.
“Definitely, you could say it is a bright spot in an otherwise down market for wood products,” he said, adding that he’s seeing more and more lumber yards offer FSC-certified wood, increasing his competition. “At some point, we’re excited about that.”