The Economy of Sustainable Construction: Proceedings of the Holcim Forum for Sustainable Construction 2013
388 389 Planning—and planting— for the future Economical and Sustainable! Example from Oxford, England There is an apocryphal story, popularized by Stewart Brand in his BBC series How Buildings Learn , about New College at the University of Oxford. Supposedly, somebody discovered, late in the nineteenth century, that the roof beams of the college’s huge, 500-year-old dining hall had become in- fested with beetles. Administrators had faint hopes of finding oaks big enough to provide new beams, but somebody thought to ask the college forester; to everyone’s surprise, the man declared that he’d been expecting this visit: five centuries earlier, when New College was built, a stand of oaks had been planted for the express purpose of—five centuries later—replacing the dining hall’s beams, which would by then surely have deteriorated. The administration had lost track of this lumber reserve, but the forest- ers had not; they had passed down instruc- tions for its use from generation to genera- tion. The truth is less tidy—there aren’t any trees on the New College’s land destined for one building in particular—but no less sustainable. The college’s foresters have always maintained mixed forests. Faster- growing hazel and ash trees are regularly harvested for smaller pieces of wood, while oaks are left to grow for centuries, eventually yielding lumber appropriate for major construction—like replacing the beetle-infested beams of a dining hall. Source: Tim Maly, “On Oak Beams & Contingency Plans,” Quiet Babylon (blog), http://quietbabylon. com/2009/on-oak-beams-and-contingency-plans/. IF YOU BUILD WITH LUMBER ... ... BE SURE TO PLANT TREES. Planting a tree right when something is built — to have spare parts in the future when its wooden parts have to be replaced — shows foresight.