What is Hip

Everywhere these days wood is in. It’s sexy. It’s renewable. There was a time – it seems like not that long ago – when marketers were telling us that wood was on the way out. No more. Today, wood is the answer to that timeless question from my favorite band Tower of Power.

Even the digital age, consumer electronics, are making room “for the comfort, simplicity and beauty of wood.” Check out these wooden gadgets.

No more slumber in lumber. New construction is finding renewed benefits in building with wood. Buildings are higher, better, because of wood. Speaking at an industry event in Minneapolis last week, architect Brian Court of Seattle’s Miller Hull Partnership said “There’s this kind of awakening, sort of the rebirth of timber.” Hull was reportedly named Seattle’s “Young Architect of the Year” in June by the American Institute of Architects. He recently finished work on the Bullitt Center – a six-story office building in Seattle that used wood framing as part of a foundation challenge to design the greenest commercial building in the world. “It’s a huge movement right now, and there are lots of engineers and architects focused on it because of the virtues of timber framing from an environmental footprint perspective,” says Hull, in the full story here.”If you consider the forest, when you’re growing the trees, carbon is sequestered in the wood. Even after you mill it, deliver it to the site and install it, all the energy it took to create that material is virtually offset by the sequestered carbon inside it, whereas concrete and steel require massive amounts of energy to generate the final structural product – tenfold, if not more.”

It seems the world is discovering anew the benefits of working with a renewable resource, the advantages of dealing in products whose lifeblood is dependent on development in harmony with the environment. Finds a lumber trader feeling proud to be involved in the industry – again.

alan-dunn-furthermore-it-can-be-nailed-bored-cut-or-sawed-just-like-a-plastic-new-yorker-cartoon

“Virtue in Disarray”

Does a messy desk breed creativity in lumber trading? According to the surprising results of a study reported in The New York Times here, the answer to that question is yes.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have discovered that working in chaos has significant advantages. “Few previous studies found much virtue in disarray. The broken-windows theory, proposed decades ago, posits that even slight disorder and neglect can encourage nonchalance, poor discipline, and nihilism. Chaos begets chaos. But in the study led by Dr. Kathleen D. Vohs, a behavioral scientist, disordered offices encouraged originality and a search for novelty. ‘Disorderly environments seem to inspire breaking free of tradition, which can produce fresh insights,’ conclude Dr. Vohs and her co-authors.”

Based on this finding, is it such a leap to assume that when parents are not too concerned about little ones making messes, it probably confirms creative parenting? But then, as learned in an earlier post, it could also lead to shrinking testicles?

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“Dak Desk”

National Forest Week

It’s a week to celebrate. September 22nd to 28th is National Forest WeekPerhaps we’ll even take a walk in the woods. A celebration of National Forest Week acknowledges the natural beauty of our forests while underscoring  the importance of managing the sustainability of a resource that supports a way of life.

In today’s Vancouver Sun, the six-part Journey of a Log series concludes with reference to the nuances of lumber markets. The series included this report on high-tech equipment such as x-ray scanners which now provide opportunity to examine the inside of the log to facilitate the process of maximizing recovery and value. In another column here, Don Kayne, President and CEO of Canfor, elaborates on significant developments the industry has achieved in maximizing the use of every tree – while reducing the carbon footprint by using wood residuals to fuel operations and provide surplus energy to the power grid. In a year that Canfor celebrates its 75th anniversary, the need for bringing a holistic approach into industry discussions recognizes that further integration – “from forest ecosystems to harvesting, to sawmilling, pulp, paper, engineered wood, and energy” is vital.

Thanks to my uncle Stan Harder for the lovely images below, taken during a walk in the woods this week in Abbotsford, B.C.

“Affordability Metrics”

In stark contrast to Canada, where it’s estimated that houses are overpriced by 74% compared to rental prices, buying a home in the United States is reportedly 35% more affordable than renting (it was 45% more affordable one year ago). In the full story at Bloomberg (see U.S. Homebuying Math Bolstered by Bernanke’s Surprise), it’s reported that the cost of homeownership is cheaper than renting by at least 20% for buyers in Orange County, California, the New York area, New Jersey, and San Diego. In Honolulu, the affordability gap has narrowed faster, making it 10% less expensive to buy than rent, compared with 24% last year. In San Francisco, where home values gained 24.5% in June from a year ago, owning is now cheaper than renting by just 9%, compared with 28% a year ago. San Jose, California, where it’s 4% cheaper to buy, is closest to reaching a tipping point, the data show. Buying a home is most affordable in Detroit, Gary, Indiana, Memphis, Tennessee, and Cleveland.

This regional data was all provided by the powerfully transparent U.S. real estate site Trulia, which just today launched their most sophisticated Rent vs. Buy Calculator to date. The calculator enables users to determine whether it’s cheaper to rent or buy in any market. And by tweaking the home price, a renter can even pinpoint the price of a home that would cost the same to own, on a monthly basis, as that person’s current rent (Source).

Good Reading

Local media weekend reading offered up insights into value on divergent fronts where our forests contribute a spectrum of enjoyment and added value to life. In the beginning of a six-part series by Gordon Hamilton in the Vancouver SunJourney of a log expands on today’s woods industry and delivers interesting insights, while spelling out groundwork for the economic significance of an industry along the way. At the same time, a weekend story here in The Province on a unique overnight experience offered in a sphere-shaped tree-house reaffirms another kind of potential enhancement to life, proving once again that “good things come in trees.”

Timber in the City

Ongoing questions around affordability of housing are much in the news these days. Reports concerned with housing in Metro Vancouver are the subject of a series of articles here, here, and here in today’s Vancouver Sun. The many factors that determine housing affordability play out against a backdrop acknowledging the significance of B.C.’s resource-based economy, in which forestry of course is significant. A posting here at Daily Emerald this week reports design innovations by University of Oregon architecture students for a competition aimed at creating affordable, environmentally sound urban housing. Their 175-unit structure calls for the use of cross-laminated timber (CLT). As strong as concrete but only 1/6th the weight, CLT also promotes daylight, which is exactly what the students tried to harvest in their design for Metro Brooklyn, New York. Perhaps their award-winning design could find relevance in discussions involving other urban region housing – even Metro Vancouver?

Global Buyers Mission

The final tallies are in, for the 10th Annual Global Buyers Mission (GBM) wood-show held at Whistler last weekend: there were 800 attendees comprised of 240 pre-qualified buyers from 22 countries, 235 Canadian exhibitors, and an estimated $48-million in signed deals. Those impressive figures can be found in an excellent report here at The Question, a local Whistler newspaper. According to the report, three quarters of this year’s buyers came from Asian markets, all of whom were personally invited and pre-authorized to buy. “The growth of the GBM in the past 10 years is nothing short of phenomenal,” said Brian Hawrysh, CEO of BC Wood. “We’re particularly pleased to see buyers representing emerging markets like India, the Philippines and Malaysia.” A BC Global News video report on the GBM aired September 6th, and is available here.

China Import Data for August 2013 released by CIBC Equity Research

Lumber imports up 29.8% YOY
In August 2013 China imported 2.220,000 m3 of lumber at an average cost of $277 per m3. Lumber imports are up 29.8% compared to August 2012 when they were 1,710,000 m3. YTD lumber imports are 15.350 million m3 compared to 13.590 million m3 in the prior period.

Log imports up 28.4% YOY
In August 2013 China imported 4.070,000 m3 of logs at an average price of $203 per m3. Log imports are up 28.4% compared to August 2012 when they were 3,170,000 m3. YTD log imports are 29.020 million m3 compared to 25.290 million m3 in the prior period.

Size Matters

Mostly, the question of size in relation to certain parts of the male anatomy has been subject of unsubstantiated rumour and conjecture. Until now.  It’s long been assumed that there’s a significant correlation between enhanced dimensions and the making of bold trading decisions. This week comes word here that researchers have found there’s a correlation between testicle size and parental caregiving. They concede that the correlation is statistically significant but not perfect. “The smaller a man’s testicles the more involved he is likely to be in caring for his toddler son or daughter, suggests a study conducted by anthropologists at Emory University in Atlanta, GA, and published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.” The study’s conclusions seem to suggest that a certain amount of shrinkage might occur as a result of increase in the nurturing process. What’s left to be determined, insofar as lumbermen are concerned, is an answer to the question of  whether enhanced nurturing demonstrated in caregiving of customers’ needs and wants could itself expose a guy to increased shrinkage over time.
Hat Tip: Ernie Harder