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Prices have soared because of supply-chain issues and other COVID-19-related challenges. Solving the lumber crisis is a critical priority for the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga, particularly because of housing affordability implications. Potential solutions that use high-performance building strategies can reduce the amount of lumber needed to build a home and reduce the demand on the timber industry.
“We have seen a dramatic increase in the cost of lumber over the past two quarters and it continues to rise. With an increase in demand, low interest rates, and shortages as a result of the pandemic, it has created an environment for unprecedented cost increases and delays,” says HBAGC member Ryan Jerke, Division President of Goodall Homes. “While this has negatively impacted our margins and build times, the consumer has absorbed the majority of the increases and the market continues to be strong. We have not yet reached a tipping point but it could be around the corner if lumber continues to run the way it has over the past two quarters.”
This makes sustainable timber more important than ever, with several elements that make it environmentally friendly:
- Harvesting: Trees must be cut down in a manner that protects the surrounding ecosystem by avoiding damage to local flora and fauna. Additional trees need to be planted to replace what was cut down.
- Sourcing: Sustainable timber could be recycled or reclaimed. For example, many demolished buildings or dilapidated bridges still have useable wood that can be saved for other projects.
- Byproducts: Sustainable timber considers what byproducts are made from the material and how are pollutants within the material are addressed.
One way to decipher how wood is harvested is to check if the material has been certified to a standard by an independent organization, such as the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) or the Forest Stewardship Council® (FSC). Home Innovation Research Labs also certifies green products (including wood and engineered wood products), and using those products can earn points toward the National Green Building Standard (NGBS) Green Certification.
Strategies highlighted in the above NGBS practices can help to reduce the amount of wood used in a home — potentially alleviating some of the ongoing issues with supply constraints and material costs, while also emphasizing the importance of how building products are sourced.
To find a sustainable builder in our area, visit the Home Builders Association of Greater Chattanooga’s website at www.HBAGC.net.