Volume 415, Issue 6 - August 2006

In the News

ARB Develops Air Toxic Control Measure 

The State of California, through its Air Resources Board (ARB), is in the final phase of developing an Air Toxic Control Measure (ATCM) for particleboard, medium density fiberboard (MDF) and hardwood plywood—collectively referred to as “compwood.” The intent of this regulation is to significantly reduce formaldehyde emissions from these products to levels that are below what is found in the natural environment. 

The ARB is currently evaluating the results from the composite wood product survey to determine the amount of emissions from composite wood products and to evaluate the current state of the industry. They will also evaluate alternatives to traditional urea-formaldehyde resins in composite wood products. 

The Association of Woodworking and Furnishings Suppliers (AWFS) says that industry leaders do not think the measure is feasible economically. The most prevalent alternative technologies that California ARB is mandating involve the use of highly toxic and dangerous chemicals, according to AWFS. A handful of companies are using these alternatives, but their cost of capital required to do so is nearly one million dollars, according to the AWFS.

AWFS says there are many holes in the ARB proposal to regulate emissions from wood products. End users are likely to turn to composite panels sourced from outside of California, including imported panels from overseas. This will place California manufacturers at increased long-term risk. AWFS says ARB also has not demonstrated a method of enforcement of these regulations on importers and how they would police imported goods, whether it be, for example, on raw particleboard or on a finished bedroom nightstand. 

The proposed regulations are likely to double the cost of particleboard, MDF and hardwood plywood and will apply to any product manufactured anywhere using these materials if it is sold into California, according to the AWFS.
The rules are expected to be finalized this month.

This rule will also regulate the products made from these substrates, which means this ATCM will affect board producers, distributors, laminators, cabinet/furniture/fixture manufacturers, retailers and importers who produce, sell or ship composite panel related materials and products within or into California. AWFS says the regulation will impact tens of thousands of companies worldwide.

The Window and Door Manufac-turers Association (WDMA) says it will work with California ARB staff to evaluate the true effect of the draft regulations, and determine the most realistic approach to solving the problem of formaldehyde emissions and the potential effect on air quality. By taking a look at how other products perform, and at other factors including the specific test parameters for doors and windows, WDMA will help ensure the final regulations provide a meaningful solution to the citizens of California. 

Look to the September issue of SHELTER for how this is impacting the building products industry.

USGBC Board Says It Will Tackle Wood Issue 

The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) board of directors has directed its LEED steering committee to address two proposed changes to LEED’s wood and bio-based materials credits recommended in a white paper accepted by the council’s board. As with any change to the LEED rating system, the proposal will posted for public comment and balloted by the council’s full membership prior to implementation.

The board acted in response to the debate over wood and wood certification as related to USGBC’s LEED Green Building Rating System. The council says wood-related issues had grown to dominate the green building agenda in some state and local forums, and were becoming a distraction from the broader goals. 

Entitled “Dealing with Wood and Bio-Based Materials in the LEED Rating System,” the white paper that formed the basis for the board’s action was researched and prepared by Alex Wilson of BuildingGreen, at USGBC’s request, and includes a life-cycle analysis completed by Greg Norris, Ph.D. of Sylvatica. The white paper recommended that Materials and Resources Credit 6 (MRc6) be changed from a rapidly renewable credit into a biobased credit, under which wood that is not derived from illegal logging would be recognized, and that Materials and Resources Credit 7 (MRc7) should be changed from a wood-only credit to a credit that recognizes certified biobased materials that satisfy as-yet-to-be-developed, robust certification criteria, along with waste agricultural products such as straw-based particleboard, without certification required.


Clearwood Industries was listed incorrectly on page 43 of the Annual Guide to Moulding & Millwork Companies. Clearwood’s correct phone number is 604/460-0070 and its fax is 604/460-0030.

Hager Distribution Acquires Townsend Lumber Co.

Hager Distribution, a division of the Hager Group Inc. headquartered in Grand Rapids, Mich., has acquired Clayton, Mich.-based Townsend Brothers Inc. 

The acquisition will expand Hager’s lumber and building materials distribution network, while enhancing custom-cut lumber capabilities—an important criteria for serving the industrial market.

Hager Distribution currently provides wholesale lumber, building materials and custom packaging lumber to lumberyards, home centers, specialty retailers and industrial clients. It has serviced its customers through four Michigan locations, including Grand Rapids, Saginaw, Gaylord, and White Pigeon. Townsend’s location, near Adrian, Mich., will further expand Hager’s distribution into southeastern Michigan, northern Ohio and central and southern Indiana markets.

The company says that sales and purchasing functions will be centralized through Hager’s Grand Rapids headquarters, but most other aspects of the former Townsend business will remain intact. The purchase of the 61-year-old company will bring Hager’s total workforce to more than 150 employees, including Townsend’s former owners Jim Warner and Dale Townsend, who will stay on to oversee the transition. 

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