July 24, 1998

Middlebury College Uses "Certified Wood" in Construction of Bicentennial Hall

Project Safeguards Wildlife Habitat and Contributes to Local Economy

Middlebury College has announced plans to use "certified" wood products in the construction of its new Bicentennial Hall, making the facility the largest academic project of its kind in the country to do so. "Certified" wood, according to Alan Calfee of the National Wildlife Federation (NWF)/SmartWood program, is wood that has been evaluated using more than 60 criteria that help ensure it comes from forests under ecologically sound forest management that maintain rich wildlife habitats and provide long-term economic benefits to local communities.

Wood from New England forests certified by NWF/ SmartWood will be used for interior woodwork in the 108,000 net square foot building, scheduled for completion on the Vermont liberal arts college campus in the fall of 1999. Bicentennial Hall will be home to Middlebury's science and social science classrooms and laboratories as well as its summer language schools.

"By using certified wood, Middlebury College is helping to protect forest habitats for animals while contributing to robust, diversified local and regional economies," said Calfee. "It's proof-positive that this nation's colleges and universities can make a real difference for our wildlife when they're constructing or remodeling campus facilities."

"The use of certified wood in this building is one way that our institutional commitment to both protect the environment and conserve natural resources is translated into action," said David Ginevan, Middlebury College treasurer.

The Bicentennial Hall project is also keeping local economies strong. Middlebury has contracted with The Forest Partnership (Burlington, Vt.) and Barr & Barr, Inc. (Middlebury, Vt.) to obtain 120,000 board feet of certified wood for the project. Much of this timber will come from members of Vermont Family Forests, an organization that cultivates the economic and socioeconomic benefits of family-owned forests in Vermont. Vermont Family Forests recently received its certification from NWF/ SmartWood, making it the first source for certified timber in Vermont.

While Middlebury's costs are not significantly higher, Vermont Family Forest landowners and loggers will receive at least double the revenue typical for a project of this size. Harvesting, processing, and milling-usually handled by a number of commercial organizations-are being managed directly by The Forest Partnership. "Streamlining this process means more of the money is invested right back into Vermont businesses," said Richard D. Miller, executive director of The Forest Partnership. "A major goal of the Middlebury project is to demonstrate that it is possible to support sound forestry in Vermont without dramatic increases in costs to the consumer."

Other parts of the Vermont wood processing industry will also benefit from the Middlebury College project. Nearly all of the lumber used, for example, will be kiln-dried in Vermont, and a significant amount of the sawing operations will also take place in Vermont.

Miller hopes that Middlebury's example will lead to similar commitments by other businesses. "As more and more businesses decide to purchase certified wood products," he said, "there will be many more opportunities to help guarantee healthy forests, while keeping much of the value of the wood in the local community."

NWF leads the SmartWood forest certification program in the northeast region of the U.S. through a special collaboration with the Rainforest Alliance. To date, the SmartWood program has certified approximately three million acres across the U.S., providing safe habitat critical to the American bald eagle, wood thrush, lynx, and a rich array of other forest wildlife.

Middlebury College: Middlebury College is an independent, residential, liberal arts college with 2,160 students. Located in Middlebury, Vt., the College is internationally recognized for its leadership in a number of academic areas, including language study and instruction, environmental studies, and literary studies.

National Wildlife Federation: The nation's largest member-supported conservation advocacy and education group, the National Wildlife Federation unites people from all walks of life to protect nature, wildlife, and the world we all share. The Federation has educated and inspired families to uphold America's conservation tradition since 1936. Its common-sense approach to environmental protection brings individuals, organizations, and governments together to ensure a brighter future for people and wildlife.