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reclaimed wood, salvage, material research, recycling, landfill, UVA, architecture, landscape, forest products, infrastructure, material recovery facility, fabrication, network, sustainabilitystockpiles of wood and carpet awaiting sorting at Ace Waste Recycling, Chester, Virginia

A close inspection of of Ace Recycling’s woodpile (above) will reveal some sound pieces of wood among the unpromising wood pallet shards.  Yet the whole pile will be downcycled:  ground into a uniform chip consistency.  This fate is actually better than that of much “urban forest” material.  Great quantities of the urban forest ends up in Virginia landfills.

wood flows, material research, infrastructure, sustainability, recycling, reclaimed wood, forest products, architecture, landscape, Michael Levy Bajar, material recovery facility, landfill, efficiency, wood flow chart | by Michael Levy Bajar

The chart above represents all of the wood originating in Virginia and flowing through in-state processing facilities.  The good news is that very little waste was produced in the facilities that we visited, and this waste was generally used as fuel to generate power. In the detail below, materials that fade into pink and then loop back are the waste materials that are used as fuel to power the process.

wood flows, material research, UVA, forest products, infrastructure, Michael Levy Bajar, sustainability, salvage, biomass, recycling, systems, networks, process facilities, Virginiawood flow chart detail | by Michael Levy Bajar

However, after processing is finished, forest products enter use, and after use, these materials typically end up in landfills. The blue lines at the lower right of the chart represent Virginia landfills. In 2010 a third of the solid waste disposed in Virginia landfills, about 6.5 million tons, came from construction and demolition waste plus yard waste.

wood flows, material research, reclaimed lumber, forest products, Virginia, diagram, rotation length, roundwood, architecture, UVA, landscape, sustainability, recycling, material recovery facilities,wood systems model | Sophia Lee

In the top view of Sophia Lee’s wood systems model, the left turn made by the paper ribbons represents the material entering the “black box” of use.

wood flow, material research, University of Virginia, sustainability, recycling, forest products,  reclaimed lumber, infrastructure, architecture, landscape, material recovery facility, Sophia Lee,  fuelwood systems model | Sophia Lee

The lower box, coming out of “use” is the landfill.  The upper gray box is a material recovery facility.  At the moment,very little material is routed through a MRF.  One of the concerns of the studio,therefore,  was to propose ways that material might re-circulate through a series of uses for a longer time.

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