Wood & Panel

AHEC’s clear explanation on true sustainability on American Hardwoods

 Saturday, February 27, 2016

indexThe American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC), the leading international trade association for the American hardwood industry, has launched a new campaign – Grown in Seconds to illustrate the true sustainability of American hardwoods by showing how swiftly wood used for a variety of projects regrows naturally in America’s forests. Together with the AHEC website, the aim is to provide environmentally-focused architects, developers and manufacturers with an easy source of information to help them select the most suitable materials for their projects. The new campaign has been launched to coincide with the opening of INDIAWOOD, which was opened at Feb 25, and is set to run until February 29, 2016 at the Bangalore International Exhibition Center in Bangalore, India.


Supported by environmental consultants ThinkStep, AHEC aims to promote a better understanding of the true environmental benefits of using American hardwoods in design and manufacturing. The new platform, Grown in Seconds, uses the extensive data gathered by the U.S. Forest Service to track the annual growth and harvest rates of every hardwood species to calculate how quickly wood used in projects is naturally regrown within the forests of the United States. The Grown in Seconds 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.


“The platform 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 size of the hardwood resource. Examples shown on the site include a spectacular M.C. Esher-inspired staircase that would take just 2 minutes to be replaced, a design-savvy shed (a mere 14 seconds), a wooden workspace (5 seconds), a deck (25 seconds) and even a bespoke pencil sharpener (0.02 seconds),” said Roderick Wiles, AHEC Director for Africa, Middle East, South Asia and Oceania.


index 2Around a third of the United States 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. With this in mind, AHEC promotes the use of indigenous American hardwoods to international architects and designers. This new website, illustrating how quickly American hardwood can grow and regenerate, and the effect of the manufacturing process on the overall environmental impact of the piece, will further reinforce the argument that American hardwoods are a highly sustainable material.


The annual overall growth rate of hardwoods in the American forest far outweighs the rate of harvest. For instance, just 40 percent of the American cherry, which naturally grows each year, is harvested. The U.S. Forest Service Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program (www.fia.fs.fed.us/tools-data) 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 the creative projects that have been listed on the platform.


“The careful management of the American forest over centuries means that these beautiful hardwoods grow more quickly than they are harvested, and this will continue to be the case for centuries to come. The speed of natural regeneration (no planting is done) takes some people by surprise, but we are talking about a country that is similar in land size to Australia but with a third that is covered in trees. Given that wood, while it is in use, still stores carbon, there is a compelling argument to optimize good environmental practice by using more wood and creating products that can be designed and built to last as long as possible. Grown in Seconds helps to highlight and celebrate the true sustainability of American hardwoods,” concluded Wiles.

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