Eucalyptus is considered a renewable resource. It grows much faster than hardwoods or softwoods, but not as fast as bamboo. Eucalyptus trees can be harvested within 14 to 16 years of planting. Those that have burned or been cut easily regenerate and grow quickly. One company that is certified in Brazil is marketing Eucalyptus under the Lyptus brand name. Wood 41 42 Decoration 3 Fibria’s mills use virtually every portion of the log, converting it to lumber and other usable by-products, including bioenergy for the kiln-drying operations. Fibria’s Lyptus forests produce 30 times the volume of lumber per hectare per year when compared to an unmanaged temperate forest. The drawback to Eucalyptus is that forests actually can cause fires due to the flammable Eucalyptus oil in the trees. Eucalyptus trees are also notable for using water, although this trait can be put to good use in swampy climates. Eucalyptus trees were brought from Australia to other parts of the world after the James Cook expedition of 1770. In areas where they are replacing hardwoods, such as oak trees, they have an impact on the wildlife inhabitants of the forests. Engineered wood sustainability Normally when you hear the term engineered wood, you think it is the antithesis of sustainability. It conjures up images of sawdust glued together giving off tons of VOCs. New products are focusing on sustainability and wood particles. One such product is Echo Wood’s FSC-certified engineered veneer. It is produced as a veneer with a visually tight stripe effect that mimics rare species of wood, such as ebony, wenge, macasser, zebrawood, walnut, mahogany, teak, and rift white oak. The veneers are applied over 100-percent recycled wood particleboard or MDF. Echo wood uses all thermo-fused vinyl and adhesives that are green certified, or are low VOC with no added formaldehyde. The tree species used for these products are Ayous from Cameroon and Basswood from northern China. Echo wood uses sustainable forestry practices. Indoor Air Quality Trees and plants contribute to our air quality. The process of photosynthesis occurs when plants take in water, sunlight, and carbon dioxide to produce glucose and oxygen. The glucose is used for the plants’ energy to grow and the oxygen replenishes the earth’s supply of breathable air. Trees take in sunlight and carbon dioxide only during the daytime. They release oxygen during the day and release carbon dioxide at night. This is a process that is absolutely necessary for life on earth and the main reason people are concerned with preserving forests. A variation in carbon dioxide level, either increased or decreased, could harm the environment. When wood burns, it emits smoke with toxic chemicals into the air. The most significant problem with wood smoke is the release of hydrocarbon particles that are harmful to breathe. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) reported 50 different chemicals in wood smoke, some of which are known carcinogens. Particles that are smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter can get deep into lungs and even the bloodstream. The particles can cause breathing difficulty, irritation of the airways, decreased lung function, aggravated asthma, bronchitis, irregular heartbeat, heart attacks, and premature death in people with heart or lung disease. Wood smoke can also cause environmental damage. Particles can be carried over long distances by wind and then settle on ground or water, changing the nutrient balance of ecosystems. Social Health
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People respond emotionally to wood. Psychologist Erich Fromm created a term, biophilia, to refer to the instinctive bond that exists between humans and other living systems. Lippke and colleagues (2011) explain how biophilia between humans and wood contributes to a socially positive experience: “They are attracted to its visual variety and natural expressiveness.” The researchers also cited a study that found “the visual presence of wood in a room lowers sympathetic nervous system activation in occupants, further establishing the positive link between wood and human health.”
Through most of history, wood has been used for building structures for ordinary use. Where trees are available, they can be used for quickly building a shelter—either by wrapping bunches of tree branches together, or by cutting the trunk of the tree into strips of wood and piecing them together. Wood was probably the first material used for building and the most common.
Wood structures have not been durable enough to last through the centuries, so there are very few ancient wood structures remaining. Ancient Chinese buildings were preserved better than most because they were painted. They were constructed with large wood horizontal elements that extended beyond the roof and highly decorated with paint. In ancient Egypt, wood was used for carved vertical columns. The wood columns were painted and the dry climate in Egypt also served to preserve wood better than a damp climate. Ceilings had wood beams closely spaced with reeds and twigs laid perpendicular on top of the wood beams. When the structural look was concealed, small poles were laid against the underside of the beams and fastened to them. The beams and poles were covered with plaster and painted.