WoodRight Forest Products has selected six "focus communities" based upon an environmental non-profit group's study documenting major green building certifications across 20 states.
Columbus, OH, Cincinnati, OH, Greensboro, NC, Charlotte, NC, Washington, DC, and New York City were selected based on research by sustainable development non-profits Appalachian Sustainable Development of Virginia and Rural Action of Ohio, and other environmental groups. WoodRight will bring product education, specification, and sourcing benefits to a variety of local building professionals in these communities, including:
- Free in-person courses approved by the Green Building Council Institute
- Free American Institute of Architects (AIA) accredited continuing education classes, webinars, and other forest-products training
- Free Interior Design Continuing Education Council accredited courses
- Wood building product specification and sourcing assistance
To choose the communities, the non-profit coalition initially scanned 563 cities in 20 states to determine which areas had the most registered green building projects, including LEED, LEED for Homes, NAHB Green, and EarthCraft. From there, they looked at types of certifications and other criteria, such as distance from eco-friendly forest product producers.
WoodRight's "focus communities" effort expands its role to link Central Appalachian forest products to environmentally conscious consumers, including architects, contractors, and retailers who embrace the highest social and environmental standards.
"One advantage of WoodRight is that we can match the supplier to the job," explained Kevin Rowe, Business Development Director for WoodRight. "Our goal this year is to increase our presence in communities that scored highly in our green building research because we believe those areas are home to the designers and builders who will be most interested in how we manage and document the environmental and social impacts of our wood products."
WoodRight does not carry its own inventory, but instead works with a Distributed Manufacturing Network comprised of mills from the Central Appalachian region across six states. This approach allows the use of the most efficient and/or closest mill for each job, thereby reducing carbon footprints and extending "buy local" ethos to forest products.
Ninety percent of Appalachian forests are privately owned and the parcels only average 30 acres. These small parcel owners do not always have the resources for forest management or to bring their responsibly managed timber to market. Moreover, between 2004 and 2009, employment in the wood products manufacturing sector in Central Appalachia dropped an estimated 27%. Many of the region's remaining mills have resorted to a heavier focus on exporting logs and lumber -- effectively extracting and exporting the natural resources and economic potential upon which Central Appalachian forest-based communities have come to rely. The WoodRight enterprise addresses these challenges for Appalachia, while simultaneously making it easier for building professionals to use responsibly grown, harvested, and crafted local wood.
"WoodRight's unique business model offers a win-win for everyone involved - and holds promise for a more sustainable, revitalized forest and wood products sector in the region," said Kathlyn Terry, Executive Director of the non-profit Appalachian Sustainable Development. "WoodRight connects Central Appalachian hardwood products manufacturers with green construction jobs by providing leads, service, and expertise in logistics, green building documentation, and product development."