Wood and Our Environment

Wood is renewable

Wood is renewable, recyclable, biodegradable and using it is good for the environment. Indiana is currently growing over three times more wood than it is harvesting. Wood is the greenest building option because it has the lowest environmental impact compared to steel or concrete.

Dry wood is one-half carbon

The actual rate of carbon sequestration will vary with species, climate and site, but in general, younger and faster growing forests have higher annual sequestration rates. The use of wood for products sequesters this carbon, helping to negate global warming.

Wood fuel vs. fossil fuels

Wood is created by photosynthesis and is an efficient way of storing solar energy. Recovering the energy from wood products at the end of their life, as a substitute for fossil fuels, increases wood's positive carbon effect.

Urban tree utilization

Urban tree utilization is beneficial for the local economy and is environmentally friendly. Many consider it a "green" process because the dry wood will be used as lumber, instead of being burned or left to decompose. As a result, less carbon is released into the atmosphere.


WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) - Trees around a city or town can help clean the air and add beauty. But when a tree has to be removed, the leftover wood may be left to decompose, be burned or sent to a landfill. However, there are ways people can use urban trees as lumber to make something permanent. News 18 takes a look at urban wood and how one local man is turning one of his urban trees into a treasure.

An urban tree is defined as a tree in a residential area or within a city. Purdue Forestry Professor Dan Cassens said when an urban tree is removed, the homeowner or a business chooses what they want to do with the leftover wood.

Once that happens, you have to make a choice - whether it's going to go to the landfill, be used as firewood, or processed into a useful product for current and future generations to enjoy," Cassens said.

The process of turning the wood into lumber and making it into a permanent product is called urban tree utilization. Cassens said many people use the lumber to build furniture, like chairs or tables. "It's for the homeowner that wants to convert that tree into a useable product. Some of that might be sentimental reasons," Cassens said.

"It's good for the environment," Cassens said. "I think it's good because it gets people more involved, and you end up using your hands and you end up producing something that you can show to your friends." It is more common to see urban wood in big cities, like Chicago, because of the large populations. It's a process that is not too common in Indiana, but Cassens said is continuing to grow around the state.