Accoya wood: the most sustainable exterior building material
Accoya wood: the most sustainable exterior building material
Accoya wood: the most sustainable exterior building material

Greenest of the green

Accoya Trees

Mirror mirror, on the wall, what's the greenest building material of them all?

The world is awash in green marketing. Some is credible, some is not. The only way to truly assess sustainability is to circle above the fray like an eagle and have a look from an "eco system", viewpoint.

With materials, sustainability boils down to two characteristics: Properties, and Performance.

Sustainability claims sometimes trumpet performance benefits while sweeping property "eco skeletons" under the rug. For instance, "lead based paint is better because it lasts longer." Not! Durability is a core sustainability concept, but not at the expense of using persistent toxic heavy metals.

By meeting all the property and performance criteria needed to win the prestigious Gold standard of Cradle to Cradle certification, Accoya wood builds a credible case as being Planet Earth's most sustainable exterior building material.

Let's investigate this claim.

Accoya wood: Sustainable Properties

The first question in any sustainability investigation is "what is the basic resource involved." Renewables are inherently more eco-friendly than non renewables like plastic or metal, which come with high ecological extraction and production footprints. Forests are just more ecological than open pit mines or offshore drilling rigs.

Accoya is off to a good start, because it literally "grows on trees".

Carbon Footprint

Accoya wood:

  • has the smallest production footprint. Trees are carbon neutral, and they are relatively easy to harvest and manufacture.
  • actively mitigates climate change. Trees act as a "carbon sink,” sucking carbon out of the atmosphere when they are growing, and storing it safely in the finished lumber. Because Accoya lasts longer than other woods, it will even store that carbon far longer.
  • is fully reusable and recyclable. 100 years from now, you can saw up your Accoya boards into new projects, safely burn them for energy, or compost them to return the nutrients to the soil and close the carbon loop. Accoya's Cradle to Cradle certification ensures that it is 100% safe and biodegradable.

OK: trees are good, but how does Accoya wood compare to other trees?

Do you know where your trees came from? Many hardwoods come from countries where poverty or lack of government standards result in trees being literally stolen, or cut from the few remaining old growth forests or nature preserves. All Accoya wood is certified, legally harvested wood from EUTR compliant, well managed sustainable sources including FSC®, PEFCTM and other regionally certified woods.

Side benefit: Accoya's careful production tracking and exhaustive certification make it great for use in LEED projects.

Pure and natural Accoya wood. The Accoya manufacturing process is completely non-toxic, adding nothing to the wood that does not already naturally occur in it. The Accoya production facility meets highest requirements with respect to health, safety, and the environment, and uses renewable energy for over 50% of its power.

Waste not want not. By-products of Accoya production are reused and recycled to produce acetylated MDF Tricoya, or sold for reuse to others including the food industry. (The Accsys acetylation plant is even halal and kosher approved.) Waste wood from construction projects can get a second life as Tricoya raw materials, deepening the carbon sink.

Accoya wood: Sustainable Performance

Performance is important to environmental standards too, and performance is where Accoya really shines as a sustainable choice for exterior building projects. Accoya wood is modified by Acetylation, which naturally changes the free hydroxyls within the wood into acetyl groups, greatly reducing the ability of the wood to absorb water. The lack of moisture transfer is what renders Accoya far more dimensionally stable, and rot resistant, than unmodified wood.

Proven quality. Accoya wood is warranted against fungal decay for at least 50 years above ground and 25 years. Accoya projects last much longer than projects constructed of other woods, which cuts down on the resources needed to replace them, ensures the carbon is sequestered for a longer time, and reduces pressure on landfills. Accoya's many quality certifications (e.g. KOMO, BBA, RAL, WDMA, etc.,) help back up its claim as the most sustainable exterior building material.

Outstanding dimensional stability is a huge factor in what makes Accoya wood sustainable. Accoya retains paints and finishes for 2 times as long as unmodified wood, which saves the manufacturing and re-application of a lot of finish coating materials. Exterior coatings are not always environmentally friendly, so these savings are important. Saving the environment saves money too, in a true win-win scenario.

Superior thermal insulation. Accoya even saves some energy through its superior thermal resistance, when used for exterior windows and doors instead of hollow vinyl frames and unmodified wood. Every little bit counts.

Sustainable Accoya wood

As you can see on this video, Accoya wood is more sustainable exterior choice than old growth hardwoods, woods treated with toxic chemicals, and non-renewable high-carbon plastic, steel and concrete. By using and significantly enhancing the durability and dimensional stability of certified, well managed wood species, Accoya has earned high ratings from a wide range Eco labels to support its claim as...

Accoya wood: the most sustainable exterior building material available.

Accoya wood can be purchased:
in Canada from Upper Canada Forest Products (UCFP) and A & M Wood Specialty (A & M) in the USA from Sierra Forest Products (SFP).


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