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Sustainably Built – From Dying Local Forest

Ann Arbor Library architecture
One of the key tenets of LEED certified building is to try to “source locally.”  Here’s an example where that was easy to do, but for a sad reason. The Ann Arbor District Library in Traverwood is sited within an environmental disaster zone.  The local forest is being eaten alive by an invasive species of bug that has attacked forests across a wide swathe of the midwest, killing millions of trees in their wake.

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InFORM studio, the design architects for the Traverwood library, wanted to be as innovative as possible with regard to a sustainable approach, and that has turned out to mean “using wood from a dying forest.”

Ann Arbor Library3 architecture
With the help of John Yarema of Yarema Creative Hardwood Floors they were able to reuse the Ash for flooring, wall paneling, furniture and structural members. Some of the trees are still fundamentally the same as when they were in the ground. Yarema found century old reclaimed woods from neighboring towns to use for the project.

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Not only that, but the team harvested the trees the old low tech, low carbon way;  using horses. They wanted to get the damaged trees out of the woods without disrupting the remaining healthy ones.

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To meet LEED requirements you only need to source within 500 miles, yet all the wood used in this project was much more local; within 25 miles. And you certainly don’t need to cut down the wood using low carbon horsepower!

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But as Michael Guthrie of  inFORM studio puts it, “As far as sustainable goes, we didn’t try to meet criteria, we just tried to do the best we could.”

Photos from Justin Maconochie and James Haefner
Via Treehugger

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