SFTool Blog

Welcome to the SFTool Blog. The Sustainable Facilities Tool (sftool.gov) helps you do more than learn about high-performance buildings and purchasing. SFTool helps you put this knowledge into practice, and assemble the people you need to help you get stuff done.

We’ve decided to share some of our experiences while developing SFTool. We’ll talk about interactions with the building community, challenges we’ve overcome designing the site, and other stories about putting high-performance ideas into practice.

Note: The SFTool blog may contain links to websites of public and private organizations, as well as references to specific products used in development. A link or mention anywhere on SFTool is not an endorsement of the views, products, or services provided by the mentioned resource or product.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Earth Day 2016: Trees!

Did you know that Earth Day gets a theme each year? This year’s theme, defined by the Earth Day Network, is Trees for the Earth. Trees are certainly crucial for our continuing survival as a planet, but how does that affect your building? You may be surprised by all of the ways trees and wood products are accounted for in the realm of sustainability.

Even as steel skeletons dominate the skylines of many cities today, wood is still widely used in buildings. Floors, walls, and tables are just a few, and wood can be new or reused from other sources. In any situation, it is important to ensure your wood was sourced sustainably, and our new Verifying Delivery page can help you do that. Organizations like the Forest Stewardship Council and the Sustainable Forestry Initiative ensure responsible forest management through their industry certification programs, and are another way of confirming a wood resource’s sustainability.

Wood products, like hardwood flooring, that contain sealants, adhesives, or other coatings may contain volatile organic chemicals, or VOCs. Make sure any wood product complies with international standards, which will ensure the indoor environmental quality of your building remains impeccable.

Forests play a key role in absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, a process known as ‘sequestering’ CO2. According to the Earth Day Network, an acre of trees sequesters enough carbon every year to offset 26,000 miles driven by the average car. In addition to preserving and managing forests, reusing and recycling wood products is also a great way to avoid chopping down trees unnecessarily. Often, this method is not only sustainable, but can be cheaper and produce more aesthetically pleasing results than new wood.

Planning an expansion or some landscaping? Save those trees! Any efforts in landscaping or development on your site should utilize low-impact development (LID). LID emphasizes maintaining a site’s existing hydrology as much as possible. Maintaining undisturbed areas or planting of local tree and plant species are two of the best ways to achieve this.

Regardless of theme, Earth Day is all about protecting the natural resources of the Earth in a way that will allow every future generation to experience them as we have. If you’ve recently completed a project that highlights Earth day principles, or your organization does something special for Earth Day, share it with us, or connect with us on Twitter so we can see!