Pine beetles kill forests, builders seek to use the wood 

While the insect infestation continues, using the timber left behind is becoming easier

click to enlarge pine is fine A Brackendale company installed wood panels made from pine-beetle-infected trees at
  • pine is fine A Brackendale company installed wood panels made from pine-beetle-infected trees at

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While CLT is making waves on one Lower Mainland campus, it is the Okanagan College in Penticton that can claim the prize of first using pine-beetle kill wood as a stand-in for Forestry Stewardship Council-certified wood.

The Centre of Excellence in Sustainable Building Technologies and Renewable Energy Conservation, which opened in 2010, used pine beetle-kill wood for framing the building.

Building on the "ground zero" of the pine beetle outbreak, it was essential to find a way to use the wood in construction said Tim McLennan, the director of Kelowna operations with CEI Architecture. He said the pine-beetle wood holds the same quality as other woods if harvested quickly, and using it has supported forestry communities hit hard by the infestation.

The issue was meeting FSC standards with pine-beetle wood, which is clear cut, and that is a no-no, McLennan said. This meant negotiating with the International Living Building Institute, which accepted the wood as sustainable for the first time.

"The Okanagan is the most affected zone, basically. It's near and dear to our hearts here as a major socio-economic issue," McLennan said. "Using this wood is possible given what we've learned about it in the last few years. A lot of the framing and lumber now integrates pine-beetle lumber."

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