Green Hammer pushes local sourcing
By Christina Williams
Sustainable Business Oregon editor
Green Hammer sources locally as much as possible, a credo that led it launch an urban wood recovering subsidiary. (Photo by T.S. Whalen)
Editor's note: Green Hammer was a finalist in the Sustainable Business Oregon Innovation Awards for supply chain. Read about other award winners here.
The finalists in the Innovation in Sustainable Supply Chain shine the light on a movement in Oregon’s building industry to use more local and sustainable wood.
It was 2004 when Stephen Aiguier, the founder and president of Portland-based Green Hammer, began to think about localizing his supply chain by tapping the supply of urban wood in and around Portland.
“We were driving around and seeing all these trees coming down,” Aiguier said.
Trees being removed were sent to the chipper or chopped up for firewood, but Aiguier saw the potential for thousands of board feet of locally sourced timber.
“We just decided we needed to give it a shot,” he said. “It was one of the least-planned businesses ever. We saw a five-foot diameter oak being chopped up and we waved them down and said we’ll take it.”
And that’s how Urban Timber Works, a Green Hammer subsidiary, was born.
It’s perhaps the most obvious example of how the design-build firm is committed to imbuing its supply chain with the principles of sustainability.
And while it doesn’t begin and end with wood — Green Hammer’s home performance division sources Northwest-produced cellulose that it pumps into home walls for insulation and has been an early champion of Oregon Shepherd’s locally sourced and produced wool insulation — a passion for sustainable wood is central to Green Hammer’s operations.
|View all SBO award winners | See photos from the event|
Aiguier is co-founder of the Build Local Alliance, a nonprofit with the stated mission of improving “the vitality of local forests and related human communities by connecting local, responsibly grown and processed wood with local projects.”
And Green Hammer was the first builder in the country to achieve a chain of custody certification by the Forest Stewardship Council, signifying that the company adheres to sustainable practices throughout its wood sourcing process.
The company is now setting out to build entire homes with FSC-certified wood. The achievement required Green Hammer to work with specialty lumber providers to find framing supplies that adhere to the Forest Stewardship Council’s rigorous standards of both environmental and social sustainability.
And while Aiguier isn’t a fan of every green label — the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, doesn’t do enough vetting for his taste — he’s passionate about the kinds of things that the FSC screens for.
“As a market, we don’t know where our wood comes from — except with FSC,” Aiguier said. “Some of the world’s worst atrocities are happening in the world’s forests.”
He adds: “We want to create a market for FSC-certified buildings. It’s a line being drawn that we want to promote.”
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