Page 18 - Georgia Forestry - Issue 3 - Summer 2020
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 “The number of forest acres and the amount of carbon offset by keeping those acres in management longer—all that is quantifiable,” he says. (Extending the growth period to maximize carbon sequestration is one goal of the Working Woodlands program.) “It’s quantifiable with money, which helps the landowner. But you can say the value is not only to climate and reducing emissions but also to the community or the state where you live and work. And that covers more than one of the ESG objectives.”
‘The Best Land Use ... Is to Have Trees on It’
Well-managed forestland, Villegas argues, is far superior to efforts like ter- rain-clearing solar farms when it comes to positive environmental impact.
“Without a doubt, the best land use, in terms of what it delivers to us as a society, is to have trees on it,” he says.
“Atlanta and other major cities are our primary sources of carbon emissions,” he adds, citing research from Georgia
Tech. “The fact that Georgia can point to our 22 million acres of forest offsetting all that transportation—that’s a big deal. Another data point is we’re planting over 200 million trees a year in Georgia. They are providing a critical service to all of us, generating the air that we breathe.”
This all results in investors—fueled by the cultural capital that comes with carbon mitigation—starting to pay forest landowners for their part in that service.
Just Starting
“We’re a startup in a nascent industry,” Malmquist says of his CLT company, which he says only sources sustainably harvested wood. “But we’re seeing shifts in the past year or two. We’re experienc- ing exponential growth.”
Malmquist also notes that businesses like his—and forestry in general—may be illuminated, rather than back-burnered,
Casey Malmquist’s passion for building with cross- laminated timber (CLT) is, well, an organic one.
“Wood is the only renewable building material,” he says from Columbia Falls, Montana, where he founded SmartLam North America in 2012. “We can literally grow buildings. That’s a fantastic concept.”
Large buildings constructed from massive panels of engineered wood are also a fantastic look—generally modern,
glamourous and highly publicized, as with the T3 West Midtown in Atlanta.
But Malmquist says he’s looking forward to the day when CLT buildings are more mundane.
“There’s been an emphasis on tall buildings and I get that,” he says. “But what’s exciting to me is typical buildings, like offices or warehouses [being built with CLT]. After all, you don’t read an article when
a concrete building is built in Atlanta or New York. We’ll know we’ve succeeded when a new building is not newsworthy.”
Every CLT building is a carbon sink, but that isn’t the only thing going for the material.
Georgia Forestry Association President Andres Villegas says that mass timber is actually safer than concrete or steel in the event of a fire.
“Think of how a log burns on a campfire,” he explains. “It chars from the outside, and this protects the wood. The same thing happens
to wood in a building—the internal temperatures stay stable. If you’re comparing, concrete explodes when
it reaches a certain temperature and steel becomes a noodle. That doesn’t happen to wood.”
Malmquist says architects and engineers love mass timber’s versatility and contractors are attracted to its speed-of-build and need
for fewer workers. Those qualities can reduce costs.
If Georgia House Bill 1015 passes, it will tie carbon credits to carbon-storing building materials. This will give builders and investors who choose wood yet another way to save.
This is especially important for Georgia’s ever-expanding future. The Atlanta Regional Commission predicts that metro Atlanta’s population will increase by a whopping 51 percent by 2050. Housing and employing these newcomers in sustainable buildings could make a serious dent in the region’s emissions.
“There’s a lot of focus on transportation emissions,”

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