Do you know what's been fueling the forest fires in the West? One explanation involves beetle-kill pine, or trees that have been destroyed by an invasive beetle species. The beetles ravaged through forests leaving behind plenty of dead and dry trees--the perfect fuel for a fire. Researchers at the University of Utah are working on a way to salvage these dead trees and put them to use in construction. They're working with the company Euclid Timber Frames to create interlocking cross-laminated timber (ICLT), a building material that is just as sturdy as concrete and can last up to 200 years. The trees are cut and layered with healthier lumber in a way that doesn't require any adhesives or other pressing equipment. The planks lock together and are so strong that they can withstand hurricane-force winds. The creaters of ICLT say that this method saves money, reduces the risk of wildfires by removing that dry wood from forests, and decreases carbon emissions. However, it is very difficult to collect this wood from forests, as there often are not roads that can take people deep into the forest. The researchers say they are still working on evaluating whether the money saved by using this material offsets the cost of collecting it. Do you have your own idea about how to make building materials more environmentally friendly? Let us know!
How do you move the Planet Forward? Tweet us @planet_forward or contribute to the conversation with your own story.