In 2021, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) awarded more than $15 million in Wood Innovations Grants to fund proposals to develop and expand the use of wood products, strengthen emerging wood energy markets, and protect community forests. In partnership with Sustainable Northwest and Ecotrust, LEVER was awarded funding to build a groundbreaking digital research tool for the building industry that will provide a user-friendly and searchable database of regional wood products.

Development of Forest to Frame: An Architecture of Resilient Forestry is currently underway - it will be a web-based platform that will help empower the design and construction industry to make better-informed decisions when designing buildings and specifying wood products. Forestry practices can differ widely from place to place and are highly dependent upon who is managing the forest. We recognize that some forests are managed better than others, and we want to create a tool that connects wood products consumers within the building industry with suppliers that are improving upon conventional practices. We have heard from our clients and collaborators that additional transparency within the wood supply chain is a priority and we believe that having this type of information can make all the difference when comparing wood products that otherwise might look and perform in similar ways in a building.

When we assess the potential positive impact of particular wood products, there are many different variables that can be considered: everything from the age of the tree at the time of harvesting to the distance and method of transportation to deliver a product to a project site. Forest to Frame will make it possible to take this analysis a step further, providing uniquely consolidated access to information about where wood products originated from, how those forests are managed, and how the wood fiber makes its way through the complex supply chain. This tool will increase our understanding of the environmental impact of the wood products we select, so that we can make smarter choices for each project, and help our clients to continue meeting their goals.

Our ultimate goal is that this project will help disseminate holistic and fact-based information about regional forests and wood products that can be easily understood by people from a wide range of backgrounds, including the architecture, engineering, and construction community, developers, and the local community at large. The effort will include targeted outreach to underserved communities, including BIPOC-owned, women-owned, and emerging small businesses (MWESB) and design firms.

We want to promote forestry practices that increase forest resilience in the face of climate change while at the same time sequesters and stores more carbon over time compared to conventional practices. Well-managed forests have the potential to promote a wide array of services and goods, including community well-being, local economic vitality, watershed protection, biodiversity conservation, and production of wood and fiber.