Why choose and use?

When is wood more sustainable?

When it’s reclaimed! Reclaimed wood comes from a variety of sources, but they all have a common story, the original purpose that the lumber was intended for has come to an end. This means reclaimed wood is on its second or third life and continues to be an amazing sustainable resource. While wood is a sustainable choice, reclaimed wood adds a new dimension to the term.

Where does reclaimed wood come from?

It can come a variety of sources, including old warehouses, decommissioned factories, barns, and anywhere wood has been used in construction that has allowed the wood to retain its useful characteristics. This means that a species like American chestnut (Castanea dentata), which has been unharvestable for decades because of chestnut blight, a fungal infection unintentionally introduced into the United States in 1904. It also means that large, knot free pieces of wood can be used to make a variety of different products, like counters, flooring, tables, and wall paneling.

Green building

Reclaimed wood can meet the standard for credits in several certification programs under the recycled material criteria. Because it is on its second or third life, much of the material has already proven its longevity as a sustainable material.


David Jones, PhD is the Director of Project Services for Benchmark International. David is a distinguished academic in forestry and wood science who contributed immensely to his field during his tenure as an associate professor and extension specialist at Mississippi State University.  Some of his most notable contributions to-date include a formal forest products outreach program for the state of Mississippi, co-authoring the only published introductory book to wood science and forest products, and the co-creation of a national program on wood efficiency education to help manufacturers improve productivity.

The countdown begins... revision to the formaldehyde standards for composite wood products final rule effective December 11th, 2017.

The EPA is publishing a direct final rule to update several voluntary consensus standards listed at 40 CFR § 770.99 and incorporated by reference in the Formaldehyde Emission Standards for Composite Wood Products rule. 

These updates apply to emission testing methods and regulated composite wood product construction characteristics. Several of those voluntary consensus standards (i.e. technical specifications for products or processes developed by standards-setting bodies) were updated, withdrawn, and/or superseded through the normal course of business by these various bodies to take into account new information, technology, and methodology.

Additionally, this direct final rule corrects the rule at 40 CFR § 770.20(b) by allowing the formaldehyde emissions mill quality control test methods to correlate to either the ASTM E1333-14 test method or, upon a showing of equivalence, the ASTM D6007-14 test method. This correlation was inadvertently omitted from the original final rule. The correction aligns the mill quality control testing requirements with the California Air Resources Board standards allowing mill quality control tests to be correlated to the less expensive ASTM D6007-14 test method.

In the event that EPA receives an adverse comment on the direct final rule and must publish a proposal, EPA also published a companion notice of proposed rulemaking to update the voluntary consensus standards. If EPA receives no adverse comment on the direct final rule or proposed rule, then the Agency will take no further action on the proposed rule and the direct final rule will become effective 45 days after publication of the direct final rule. If EPA receives relevant, adverse comment, then the Agency will withdraw the direct final rule and proceed with the proposed rule through the normal rulemaking process.


Read the direct final rule to update the voluntary consensus standards which is up for public inspection in the Federal Register. 

Also note that on September 25, 2017, EPA issued a final rule to extend the compliance dates for the December 12, 2016 final Formaldehyde Emissions Standards for Composite Wood Products Rule.  Read more about this action on EPA’s website.

Visit the EPA’s formaldehyde website for additional information on TSCA Title VI final rule.



Sustainability is an important aspect of renewable natural resources, by its very nature it is a requirement. For our natural resources to be renewable, they must be managed in a sustainable way. Are sustainability and utilization mutually exclusive? The answer is a resounding no!


Many of our natural resources require utilization as part of the active management programs in place. Harvesting trees to be utilized for products in many cases are both necessary and important. Active forest management is critical in areas where disturbance is part of the natural ecosystem. In fact, harvesting can mimic many of these disturbances allowing for healthier ecosystems.


This may seem counter-intuitive, but many of the forests in North America depend on disturbances like fire, hurricanes, and tornadoes to stay healthy. These disturbances allow changes to take place in the forest, these changes are referred to as Forest Succession or Ecological Succession. Does that mean all forests need disturbance? No, it means to have a healthy mosaic of forests, disturbance must occur to provide diversity.


Weather Events


Hurricanes and tornadoes create major disturbances in the forest. The break the tops out of trees, push trees over, and even distribute their seeds great distances. Both can leave bare soil exposed to sunlight allowing for other vegetation to grow, improving food sources for different animals.




Fires are beneficial too, because they allow trees with serotinous cones to spread their seeds, onto exposed soil, guaranteeing a new generation of trees to replace ones that are older and towards the end of their life spans. In fact, there are species that are dependent on fire for success. Fire intensity depends on several factors including frequency, fuel loads, weather, and time since the last fire.




Harvesting of trees can accomplish the same benefits natural benefits of major weather events, by exposing areas to sunlight allowing for new vegetative growth that benefit wildlife; the difference being, when harvesting is performed, the harvested trees can be turned into useful products, many of which are long lived, storing carbon from the atmosphere.


Similarly, with proper harvesting and controlled burns in the forest, fuel loads can be reduced so that when weather events or negligence starts a fire in the forest, the risk of catastrophic fires and damage to property can be reduced. By actively managing our forests, we can reduce fire risks, produce sustainable products, and provide viable and healthy ecosystems for the future.