11 November 2009

Friedman in the Forest

Take a look at today's New York Times op-ed column by Thomas Friedman. It concerns the Brazilian rainforest and is both depressing and hopeful. (Unfortunately, it's a bit more on the depressing side.) Still, it's interesting and certainly worth reading.

Great find, Michelle!

-Kaitlen & Vina

06 November 2009

A Different Kind of Treehouse

This is amazing. Architect/forester Roald Gundersen builds houses using entire trees, not pieces of lumber. The resulting structures are gorgeous, and the process is so much gentler on the environment than traditional logging (or building with steel supports). Here are some of the highlights:

"According to research by the Forest Products Laboratory in Madison, run by the USDA, a whole, unmilled tree can support 50 percent more weight than the largest piece of lumber milled from the same tree. So Mr. Gundersen uses small-diameter trees as rafters and framing in his airy structures, and big trees felled by wind, disease or insects as powerful columns and curving beams.

Taking small trees from a crowded stand in the forest is much like thinning carrots in a row: the remaining plants get more light, air and nutrients. Carrots grow longer and straighter; trees get bigger and healthier.

And when the trees are left whole, they sequester carbon. “For every ton of wood, a ton and a half of carbon dioxide is locked up,” he said, whereas producing a ton of steel releases two to five tons of carbon. So the more whole wood is used in place of steel, the less carbon is pumped into the air.

These passive solar structures also need very little or no supplemental heat."

Now go check out the slide show. (Nice work noticing this one, Anna!)