Partner Project: Treejuvenation
Partner Project: Treejuvenation
Trējuvenation is Tree San Diego’s waste to value project that builds a foundation for a potential business economy. Rather than remove urban trees and haul them to landfills where they slowly decompose losing most of their embodied energy as emitted greenhouse gases, Trējuvenation instead will salvage and repurpose the wood toward a broad range of valuable products: furniture, flooring, cabinetry, fencing, dimensional lumber, musical instruments, biochar, pellets, and more. There is a business opportunity at Trējuvenation’s core and thus the main objective of the project is to create and test a regional business model for lumber and high-value wood products derived from urban trees.
Source of Funding: Funding for this project is provided by the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection as part of the California Climate Investments Program.
The Business Opportunity: More than 350,000 trees grow along streets and within parks and green spaces in San Diego County’s municipalities. As a strategy for reducing greenhouse gases in the atmosphere, government agencies and nonprofits annually plant thousands of trees. With more-and-more urban trees, an ongoing supply of logs seems assured. Although there are urban lumber and woody biomass enterprises across the San Diego region, they are few in number, the urban wood supply is inconsistent and diffuse, there is little public awareness about the utility and value of re-purposed trees, and perhaps most importantly, there is no organized market. Making effective connections and interactions among the existing elements of this business ecosystem, while expanding product diversity and building a market, is attainable.
The Power of Collaboration: Major project partners include independent sawmill operators (such as Lumbercycle and San Diego Urban Timber); Palomar College, the San Diego Green Building Council, Habitat for Humanity, West Coast Arborists, Inc., the Water Conservation Garden, and the municipalities of National City and Carlsbad. The recruitment of additional municipalities, sawyers, wood processors, artisan crafters, and design professionals is underway. Because the partners share in the overall purpose of Trējuvenation, building a business model based on wood products from urban trees is jump-started.
Trejuvenation's Innovation: Trējuvenation has identified key entities in the wood products supply chain. By organizing small business owners; artisans and woodcrafters; urban foresters; architecture, planning, and sustainability professionals; educators; and community-oriented nonprofit organizations around the ideas of the circular economy, and linking them within the framework of a marketing cooperative, Trējuvenation is likely to spark a resilient industry in the San Diego region. From the perspective of systems thinking, Trējuvenation has two major subsystems. Its Knowledge Ecosystem is where new knowledge and technologies are discovered, taught, and transferred to others. It generates opportunities for both workforce entry and employees having specialized skills. The Business Ecosystem is comprised of all the project’s participants (mill operators, urban foresters, trainers/educators, designers, planners, customers, competitors, government agencies and so on) who are involved in the delivery of urban lumber and other products. Innovation stems from how effectively Trējuvenation integrates knowledge discovery, education, and technology transfer within the network of existing providers to build market and create customer value. Based in ecological sustainability and economic development, Trējuvenation also provides social empowerment. Together they foster community development and civic stewardship across urban communities.
What is a circular economy? A circular economy simply means products are designed, made, and used in ways that achieve reuse or recycling, thereby minimizing environmental harm. In this instance, prolonging landfill lifetimes, less greenhouse gas emissions to the atmosphere from decomposing organic matter in landfills, generating new products and new ways to utilize current products, and fewer miles traveled by petroleum-fueled vehicles carting wood to landfills minimizes environmental harm.