Aug 20 2012

Oregon White Oak Sets Sail with the Educational Tall Ship


When the team at Educational Tall Ship set out to build the world's most sustainable ship, they knew they'd need a boatload of wood.  And because of their mission and the purpose of the ship, it had to come from sources that would earn their approval, meeting all three criteria of the triple bottom line.

A call to Sustainable Northwest Wood was the natural next step.

We partnered with Edaucational Tall Ship to provide locally grown Oregon White Oak, which is being used throughout the ship for planking butt blocks, rails, rigging parts, hatches, interior doors and furniture, the rudder, and other places that need a durable hardwood.

Oregon White Oak is an indigenous species that spreads its roots from Northern California through Oregon, Washington, and into British Columbia.  Unfortunately, it is not a high-value species in the eyes of most landowners, and the vast majority of the oak population has been destroyed since settlement of the area, replaced first with pasture and more recently with Douglas Fir plantations.  Only 5% of the original oak population remains in Oregon.

Today's crop du jour, grapes, is the latest land use trend to pose a threat to Oregon White Oak's survival as ever more forest is cleared to make way for agriculture (photo at right).

Sustainable Northwest Wood is working to build a market and commercial value for Oregon White Oak, which will encourage landowners to preserve their existing oak stands and, hopefully, replant this magificent species when Douglas fir plantations are cut.  Oak habitat is critical for many species in the Willamette Valley, including Fender's blue butterfly (photo at left), Kincaid's lupine, and the Willamette daisy, each of which are listed as endangered. 

Much of the oak used in the Educational Tall Ship was sourced from Zena Forest Products in Rickreall, an FSC certified, family owned forest and mill that cultivates oak to ensure its survival and success on their lands. Some of the oak was also salvaged from chip yards, where most oak ends up once it has been cleared from land that is transitioning into other uses because it is commonly and mistakenly perceived to have no value.

Photo at right: Educational Tall Ship's executive director, Alan Olson, meets with Ben and Sarah Deumling, the owners and managers of Zena Forest, to see first-hand where the oak was sourced.

We are proud to see our local oak going into exciting projects like the Educational Tall Ship, where this most valuable resource will provide many decades of beauty and performance.

The Educational Tall Ship is a groundbreaking project that will be the first wooden ship of this size built in San Francisco in nearly 100 years. She will be 100 feet long on deck and have a 25 foot beam. In addition to careful sourcing of materials, the ship is also being built with an eye toward energy efficiency: She will meet her own energy needs through regenerative power technologies. 

Instead of diesel engines, the ship is propelled by DC electric motors directly connected to the propeller shafts and drawing energy from large battery banks. When the ship is sailing, the propellers will rotate by the energy of the passing water causing the electric motors to become generators. Significant electrical energy is created as sailing speeds increase. Energy self-sufficiency can be achieved by producing and storing enough energy from just four to six hours of sailing.

The design team's goal is to combine appropriate technologies from the 19th and 21st centuries - skipping over the petroleum era - and craft a ship that will be unique teaching tool to inspire appreciation for past designs, innovative solutions and address the long-range consequences of dated technologies to build a world with a more sustainable future.

Click here to learn more about this innovative project.

To celebrate this promising partnership, Sustainable Northwest Wood and Educational Tall Ship are co-hosting a sailing trip on an existing ship. This adventure is for Bay area green building professionals who wish to learn more about sustainable wood procurement. Join us for an evening voyage along the waterfront and around the beautiful sites of San Francisco Bay.

Saturday, September 21, 2012 from 5pm to 8pm
RSVP by September 7th.
Click here for more information.