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26th May 2017
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Grown in seconds: new website demonstrates sustainability of American timber
To illustrate the sustainability of American hardwoods, a new interactive platform: 'Grown in Seconds' ( www.growninseconds.org ) has been launched by the American Hardwood Export Council to show how swiftly wood used for a variety of projects regrows naturally in American forests.
Supported by environmental consultants ThinkStep, AHEC aims to promote a better understanding of the true environmental benefits of using American hardwoods in design and manufacture. Grown in Seconds uses the extensive data gathered by the US Forest Service to track the annual growth and harvest rates of every hardwood species to calculate how quickly wood used in projects can be regrown within the forests of the US.
The website shows how nine impressive projects, initiated by AHEC and created in partnership with some of the leading lights of design and architecture, have imaginatively used American hardwoods in a variety of ways. Most importantly, it demonstrates the environmental Life Cycle Assessment of each piece and gives a calculation of how quickly the material used would naturally grow in the forest.
In some instances, the timber used in the construction of these objects will have taken just seconds to grow, such is the wealth of resource available. Examples shown on the site include a spectacular MC Esher-inspired staircase that would take just two minutes to replace, a design-savvy shed (a mere 14 seconds), a wooden workspace (five seconds), decking (25 seconds) and even a bespoke pencil sharpener (0.02 seconds).
This platform, together with the AHEC website, will provide environmentally concerned architects, developers and manufacturers with an easy source of information to help them select the most suitable materials for their projects.
Around a third of the US is forested and nearly half of this resource is devoted to growing and harvesting hardwood. These forests are so vast and trees are felled so selectively that the timber that is cut down, dried, milled and machined to make furniture, buildings or products is replaced by natural regrowth within a matter of seconds.
In many cases, the annual growth rate of the hardwoods in the American forest far outweighs the harvest rate; just 40% of the American cherry which naturally regrows each year is harvested.
The US Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis programme has gathered this data for decades, tracking the rate at which each species of American timber grows and is harvested, by county, across the entire country. This resource has been used to calculate how long it takes for an entire forest to replace the material used in certain creative projects.
5th February 2016