Count to 25 slowly and that’s the number of seconds it takes for the forest to replace the American white oak logs used for the stunning 500m2 of solid decking on the upper floor of USA Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015. How is this possible? Natural regeneration of hardwoods, such as white oak, is so prolific in American forests that growth far exceeds harvest year on year.
In the last 50 years the volume of standing trees has more than doubled. This astonishing growth reflects generations of very effective forest management and stewardship.
But sustainability is not just about growing more trees, it is also about ensuring we use this wonderful material nature has provided, responsibly and with minimum impact on the environment.
So how can it be right to transport materials halfway around the world when everyone is so concerned about climate change and carbon emissions?
The answer is forests act as carbon sinks and harvested trees store carbon. Using pioneering environmental Life Cycle Assessment we know the 11 m3 of white oak decking stores the equivalent of 15.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide well in excess of the total carbon emissions of 8.4 tonnes.
In addition, the deck will act as a carbon store for as long as it remains in use, which could be up to 50 years. At the end of life, the decking can be recycled, or burnt as a renewable fuel generating 40,000 KWh of energy.