The Hidden Potential of Urban Wood

November 16, 2023

Did you know? When a tree in a city, town, neighborhood, or rural area comes down due to storm damage, age, disease, development, or other reasons, its fate is often the woodchipper or landfill, keeping 15 – 30 million tons of usable wood out of circulation and significantly increasing CO2 emissions as it slowly rots away.

This type of wood is called urban wood, and its waste doesn’t go unnoticed. Urban Wood Economy (UWE), a non-profit organization, aims to divert urban wood from landfills and give it a second life as a wooden product. Each product made from urban wood reduces wood waste, generates local employment opportunities, keeps carbon stored longer, and creates an economy that connects forests to communities in a tangible way.

NHLA is proud to be part of this Memphis and country-wide initiative. The Urban Wood Economy held a two-day academy on November 14 and 15 in Memphis, Tennessee, where leaders from dozens of companies gathered to hear panelists discuss case studies, urban wood products, and more.

NHLA Executive Director Dallin Brooks participated as a panelist in the “Wood Utilizations” seminar, covering lumber standards, grading, and certification. Other NHLA leaders attended, including Chief Inspector Dana Spessert, Geoff Web, Dean of the NHLA Inspector Training School, Chief Operations Officer Renee Hornsby, and Chief Development Officer John Hester.

The Hidden Potential of Urban Wood Urban Wood Reception

After the sessions wrapped up on Tuesday, November 15, NHLA welcomed members of the Urban Wood Economy for a reception, presentation, and tour of headquarters, which showed the diversity of hardwood species and the varied ways hardwood can be used in interior design.

The method that urban wood takes from being carbon-leaking waste in a landfill to becoming valuable products is a testament to the power of community, sustainability values, and a belief in the untapped potential of urban wood. NHLA is honored to be among those at the forefront of this sustainable initiative, which shows that even fallen trees can still provide new growth and opportunities.

To learn more about Urban Wood Economy and Urban Wood Network, visit




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