Districts looking to balance cost, sustainability and their carbon footprint when building a new school should consider wood, urges reThink Wood, a national coalition of North America’s forestry and wood industries. Formed in 2011, the coalition promotes wood as a low-carbon alternative to steel, masonry and concrete. New technologies have allowed for longer life spans for wood.
“It depends on the use, but we routinely renovate schools that are over 50 years old where the wood has remained beautiful and in good shape,” says Jim LaPosta, chief architect with JCJ Architecture. LaPosta’s focus for the last 20 years has been on school buildings, and he even brought his message to a Twitter chat with reThink Wood in early August.
According to LaPosta, steel and concrete took the place of wood as the primary building materials for schools 50 years ago, but wood began making a comeback in the last decade.
Aside from its value and environmentally friendly qualities, LaPosta says, wood’s versatility creates a warm environment conducive to learning. “We should be interested in being good stewards of the environment and use a product that is renewable and sustainable,” says LaPosta. “It gives value to the kids when they see that reflected in their school.”