SavATree Consulting Helps the City of Baltimore Reclaim, Reuse, and Revitalize

The data is remarkable: a few years ago, the U.S. Forest Service estimated that the amount of wood discarded in our nation’s cities annually was greater than the timber harvested from our U.S. National Forests during the same period. That so-called “urban wood residue” comes from building construction and demolition, and from woody yard trimmings and storm debris. What happens to all that abandoned biomass? Much of it is burned, or put into a landfill, or chipped into mulch.

But for most of that wood waste, there are better things that can be made with it, and many people in the local community who could benefit from the “making.” Mike Galvin, Director of SavATree’s Consulting Group, is part of a team working to figure out how.

SavATree is one of a handful of partners – including state and municipal agencies, private companies, and non-profit organizations — working with the U.S. Forest Service on its Baltimore Wood Project (BWP). The BWP is a multi-pronged effort to recover and repurpose Baltimore’s wood waste to decrease the wood sent to crowded landfills, increase supplies of green materials, and create new wood products… and in so doing, to create new companies and new jobs in Baltimore. As the project manager, Galvin identifies the experts who should be brought onto the project, makes the phone calls, convenes the stakeholders, reviews technical reports, and handles whatever else may be needed to, as he describes it, “keep the trains running on time.”

Connecting all the pieces is not only what Galvin does for the BWP, it’s the guiding mantra for the project itself. BWP’s rethinking of Baltimore’s wood waste is not just about recycling. Rather, explains Galvin, “our efforts extend along every step in the end-to-end supply chain,” namely:

  • Assessing the volume of urban wood residue Baltimore produces annually and how much of that material can actually be turned into something useful;
  • Devising efficient salvage systems to recognize and rescue the serviceable wood waste before it gets hauled off to landfills and burn piles;
  • Identifying the potential markets — and therefore, buyers — for Baltimore’s reclaimed wood supply;
  • Helping connect the wood processors at the beginning of the supply chain (such as kiln- and mill-owners) with the wood-product producers at the end of it (including builders, furniture-makers, artists, and biofuel companies.)

“The Baltimore Wood Project’s work on localized supply chains, job creation, and creative reuse is a perfect fit with SavATree’s commitment to lean and sustainable practice,” says Galvin. And hopes are high that the project will bring much-needed economic, social, and environmental value to the city of Baltimore.

For more information on the Baltimore Wood Project, go to

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