Update: A structural timber column has recently to the lodge and bar area. We sourced a standing dead and dry tree from the area. The tree adds to the natural aesthetic of the building in addition to buttressing the overall strength and durability of the building.
Designing and building with whole trees can be a practical and sustainable choice. Benefits to whole tree building include beautiful aesthetics and structural integrity. Whole tree construction is an environmentally responsible choice depending on the location and species of tree selected.
Whole tree construction involves using whole trees as structural components of buildings or furniture. The species of tree used is selected based on important factors including tensile strength, compressive strength and rot resistance.
Blue Mahoe is the national tree of Jamaica and has been harvested for structural lumber, furniture, and artwork for generations . Jamaica’s nation symbol, the Lignum Vitae and Hibiscus Elatus, commonly referred to a Blue Mahoe, are sought after for many applications. Both are beautiful dense woods. By comparison Blue Mahoe is three times the density and hardness of hickory; so hard that it was traditionally fashioned into bearings for sailing ships.
Some Jamaican varieties of trees that have been used for whole tree construction include:
- Blue Mahoe
- Jamaican Apple
- Rose Apple
The rate and volume of construction would strip Jamaica of all its trees if they were used as a primary construction material. Many areas of Jamaica have been over harvested, old forests in many areas have been taken over by invasive species such as bamboo. Bamboo was originally propagated in Jamaica as a lightweight and fast growing plant helpful in yam production.
The most important factor to consider with Whole wood building and all renewable resources is the location of the subject property and an understanding of the surrounding landscape.
Camp Cabarita and Whole Wood Construction. In 2014 Camp Cabarita harvested mature almond trees that risked falling over in high wind conditions. We hired James, a local builder and carpenter, to make furniture including tables and stools. Whole tree construction is extremely sustainable provided the trees are selected sensibly based on a regions resources. Whole Tree construction uses close to 100% of the tree compared to planing the trees into boards which about 40% of the tree is wasted or used in a wood byproduct. For example, Wisconsin forests could sustainably provide 300,0000 homes per year, which is 10X the state’s annual housing starts during the 2005 peak!
For the 8th year, Camp Cabarita will be attending the MREA Energy Fair to learn more about green construction and renewable energy technologies. If you are interested in learning more about whole tree construction consider attending the Midwest Renewable Engergy Fair where construction expert and researcher, Roald Gunderson, will be presenting a free workshop.