Tournesol Siteworks Uses Upcycled Urban Wood Instead of Rainforest Timber in Commercial Site Furnishings

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Tournesol Siteworks introduces thermally-modified Boulevard™ upcycled urban hardwood for benches, tables and other site furnishings. Boulevard decreases need for imported rainforest lumber, reuses domestic wood that would otherwise go to landfill.

Northlakes Bench with Boulevard wood

Northlakes Bench made with Boulevard wood

Upcycling wood that otherwise would be going to the landfill was a logical choice for our new line of benches and tables.

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Many commercial-grade wood benches and tables are made using ipé, teak, and other exotic hardwoods harvested from the rain forests in South America and Southeast Asia. Domestic manufacturers of outdoor site furnishings are drawn to the durability of that lumber, but issues of rainforest deforestation, questionable chain of custody, and embedded energy in transit make these wood sources problematic. Mayor Bloomberg of New York City has gone so far as to issue a directive to reduce the city’s use of these Amazon rainforest woods by 20%.

Tournesol Siteworks, a Northern California-based manufacturer of commercial landscape products for the urban environment, has developed a better answer for their new line of benches and tables. Boulevard™ is an upcycled urban hardwood solution that offers the durability of exotics but without the environmental baggage. Wood is sourced from domestically felled urban trees, which would typically be mulched and dumped in a landfill, then heat-treated in a special kiln, creating a 25-year wood just as durable and attractive as the exotic species.

The urban wood movement, taking felled urban trees and creating solid wood products, has the potential to sequester as much as 124 million tons of carbon over 30 years (like removing 723,000 cars from the road), according to a study by Dovetail Partners of Minneapolis. However, untreated domestic hardwoods simply can’t hold up to the intense use of Tournesol’s commercial customers. That’s where the thermal treating process comes in. Pioneered in Northern Europe over 20 years ago, the thermal modification of soft- and hardwoods changes the wood’s cell structure as if it had aged 120-150 years. The process reduces the wood’s moisture content, darkens the surface, creating a highly stable, durable wood that compares favorably to rainforest hardwoods like ipé and teak. The combination of upcycling and durability makes Boulevard™ an environmentally-superior wood solution.

“Upcycling wood that otherwise would be going to the landfill was a logical choice for our new line of benches and tables,” commented Christopher Lyon, president of Tournesol Siteworks. “We can even take a town’s own downed trees, and return them to the customer in the form of high quality street furnishings.” The company intends on eventually expanding the use of the upcycled wood to other commercial landscape applications like decking and wood tiles as well.

Tournesol Siteworks is a national leader in products that connect landscape and architecture. Since 1979 they've manufactured pots, planters, irrigation systems, site furnishings, and most recently living wall and green building components for commercial construction projects in Northern California. With a wide variety of manufacturing capabilities, they customize standard product platforms to realize any designer's vision for the urban environment.

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Christopher Lyon
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