Root to Rise

Root to Rise

  • May 29, 2015
  • by Suzanne VanGilder

Late spring is so gorgeous it’s exhausting. The days are long and there is stiff competition for the precious hours outside of the invariable work and home obligations. The lawn, flowerbeds and garden shout to be heard over the graduation parties, weddings, sporting events and bbqs. Alas, in the brilliant battle of spring, commitments and sacrifices must be made.

Dramatic? Perhaps. But every gardener knows the necessity of thinning seedlings- that removing all viable plants except for a select few- increases the probability that those remaining will thrive. There is a commitment in that selection process.

Of course, a gardener does not “grow” plants per se- a gardener creates a simplified environment with fewer threats and less competition. This reduced risk facilitates growth and allows plants to direct energy into setting roots, developing leaves and ultimately bearing fruit.

These themes of commitment and stewardship, of working with nature and simplifying for better production, recurred throughout the development of this edition of Behind The Ply. And it is a good thing they did- because the issues and regulations that conscientious architects, designers, specifiers, product developers, scientists and manufacturers have to consider- in the quest to create environmentally responsible materials and projects- are both plentiful and mind-bending in their complexity.

Fortunately, it’s not necessary to comprehend the technical minutia of every variable to mindfully practice green architecture and design.

Just like a gardener doesn’t have to comprehend the minutia of botany and plant physiology and soil science and genetics and entomology and meteorology and arrrrrghhhhhh!!!! to grow a tomato.

What is necessary to practice green architecture and design is commitment to the concept. It’s the willingness to learn the fundamentals and then diligently manage them to create healthy environments. To do this effectively across the multitude of variables that go into a project it is necessary to simplify. Select carefully. Reduce risk.

This edition of Behind the Ply includes a piece about Columbia Forest Products’ on-going commitment to developing environmentally impeccable products. It’s really fun because the origin story of PureBond technology is based in biomimicry- the practice of applying designs and strategies found in nature to find sustainable solutions to human challenges.

In addition, there is a piece that looks at the contemporary morality tale that is the big news concerning Lumber Liquidators. It addresses some of the practical and philosophical questions that arise when trying to discern what is truly environmentally responsible.

Hopefully these pieces will serve to both strengthen the professional commitment to practicing green architecture/design/product development- and to simplify the process of specifying sustainable materials.

Thank you to everybody who shared their passion and expertise to help “grow” these stories.



Suzanne VanGilder