Passengers passing through the remodeled Portland International Airport in spring 2024 will feel a bit like they are walking through a forest. The mass timber roof, the first for a major US airport, is made of wood from sustainably managed forests located less than 300 miles away. Sourcing the wood sustainably took six years of planning, research, and many phone calls between the Port of Portland, Portland-based ZGF Architects, regional tribes, family-run forests, mill owners and brokers. ZGF principal Jacob Dunn learned three main tenets for maintaining the diversity of natural forests: make smaller harvests, cut down older trees and leave more trees behind. Engaging the timber supply chain this way was a revelation, he says. To encourage more locally-sourced timber buildings, he has taken on a new role at ZGF to integrate a similar approach in future projects. Already, two new clients are trying to do direct sourcing to make sure their wood comes from tribal lands or other regeneratively managed forests.

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