Man has been building with wood for over ten thousand years, yet we still talk about it as if this material was a recent discovery in architecture. If we were to imagine the perfect high-tech material for our time, we would probably think of a material that is self-renewing, ensuring an endless supply of raw material.
An ideal material
A material that can be used in its natural form with minimal processing to limit its environmental impact, that can be moulded and coloured to change its shape and appearance, that can be regenerated and transformed into a multitude of products, that can be used to construct buildings that are more energy efficient, faster and quieter, with a lower carbon footprint than many other construction methods.
And again, we would like it to be able to effectively replace other high-impact materials such as concrete and steel to reduce 40 per cent of global carbon emissions from the built environment. We would also like it to have a positive effect on our mental health, well-being and performance in the workplace.
A useful and valuable guide
These are all characteristics that wood inherently possesses, making it the practical solution for many contemporary and future design challenges. In order to make architects and designers more aware of the properties and virtues of this natural material, the new Guide to Sustainable American Hardwoods produced by AHEC - American Hardwood Export Council, the main association representing American hardwood producers, has been created.
Inform, educate, inspire
The objective of this valuable tool is precisely to inform, educate and inspire the broad ecosystem of practitioners, architects and designers, and end users, so that they can make more informed and conscious material choices, ensuring a more sustainable future for forests and the entire supply chain.
Images, projects, environmental profiles
The Guide contains technical and performance data on the various American hardwood species accompanied by descriptions, including images, of the most interesting projects carried out. The text includes the legality risk assessment commissioned by AHEC, documentation on the American Hardwood Environmental Profile - AHEP and an interactive map showing the distribution and growth of forests with details of timber harvesting.
The aim is to illustrate the size range of these resources and which species are more abundant than others, in order to help users make smarter environmental choices.