Cold Brew Series: The Importance of Salvaging Urban Lumber

Check out this video interview with Deadwood Revival’s Danny Torres. The company creates stunning pieces of furniture in a sustainable way using reclaimed timber.

Deadwood Revival CEO Danny Torres fell in love with trees and gained an acute appreciation for the value of lumber as a wildland firefighter.  After stepping away from firefighting, he purchased an Alaskan sawmill to cultivate his passion for giving reclaimed timber a second life.  Although he had no previous experience, he surrounded himself with people who could help turn his dream into a reality.  

What is Deadwood Revival?

At Deadwood Revival, “it's all about taking city trees that would have otherwise ended in the landfill, capturing those trees, giving them an opportunity to become something else, and turning them into one-of-a-kind furniture pieces,” Torres says. 

His eyes light up when describing the thrill of the process. Instead of ordering materials, he and his team pick up their lumber straight from the field. In this way, Torres can track a tree from its source.  “We are able to share these stories with clients and tell them where a tree came from and why it was felled, so that each of our furniture pieces has a story behind it.”  

Deadwood Revival helps clients recreate digital spaces. Clients can make changes in real-time and see a rendering of the furniture piece in a particular space before purchasing. Torres says, “we want the people we work with to feel comfortable from beginning to end, and they can see and be familiar with what they are getting.”

“We want our clients to feel a level of warmth and pride and connection every time they walk into a room that has one of our pieces,” he asserts.  “We don't want any of our hand crafted furniture to become background noise.  We want them to emote a response every time they’re seen.”

VISION House Mariposa Meadows was fortunate to have custom furniture designed to fill the three structures. It was a beautiful culmination of both live edge and non-live edge furniture.

More than Furniture

Torres is adamant about community outreach and growing the industry. The company is involved in grant work focussed on education, outreach, tree planting, and donating lumber. 

For example, Deadwood Revival donates a percentage of each sale towards replanting trees through a partnership with American Forests. To date, they have planted over 6,000 trees and have captured 375 tons of CO2e.

Deadwood Revival was also awarded a grant in conjunction with the Environmental Center of San Luis Obispo. Torres talks about how one of the deliverables for this grant is to plant 240 trees locally. When embarking on this tree planting journey, Torres stressed the importance of decisions in this space. These trees need to be climate-appropriate, considering that we are in a profound drought. He points out that "you can't plant trees now without considering how the climate's going to be 50 years from now."

The type of species is also crucial because we "oftentimes don't plant thinking about the end of life." It's important to also select trees that will have a good end of life use to them. He stresses that they are "never taking out trees to produce lumber, but what we are doing is making sure the right trees are there so when they have to come out at the end of the life cycle that they are going to make good furniture or good lumber in general."

Torres explains how the company is much more than just designing furniture. “We are a triple bottom line business,” he proudly claims. Most businesses operate on a single bottom line which is profit. “We operate on a triple bottom line which is people, planet, profit. Profit is almost like the last thing for us because if you take care of people and you solve a big enough need, the profit comes automatically.”

For the public to accept urban lumber, Torres pushes the need for more education. Not only do we need to educate adults, but “we need to educate the next generation because those are the people who will have all the purchasing power in the near future. And they are the people that can be influenced the easiest as far as building a message and a mentality from the beginning,” he insists. Torres and his team focuses on educating arborists, university students, and homeowners about the benefits of salvaged urban lumber.

Sustainability Aspect of Salvaged Lumber

Often, urban lumber needs to be taken down because of size, water demand, and disease. However, Deadwood Revival is passionate about biophilic design's mental and physical health benefits. Giving lumber a new life is“celebrating the natural way the tree is,” Torres claims, “because the imperfection and scars are part of the beauty of the design.”

Torres also added that the work they do is tied to sequestering carbon. Photosynthesis is the tree’s process of filtering oxygen out and taking in carbon dioxide. Although he claims this may be common knowledge, “most people don't know that the carbon dioxide stays in the lumber. It doesn’t disappear; it actually becomes the mass of the tree.” In fact, Torres points out that 52% of the weight of a tree is actually comprised of carbon.

Due to the stored carbon in lumber, when it ends up in landfills or on fields decomposing, all the stored carbon eventually goes back into the environment. “We are lowering emissions by creating furniture made with salvaged lumber because we are storing the carbon for a longer period of time.” 

Coming Together for the Planet

Through their many partnerships and community development work, it probably comes as no surprise that Torres is passionate about idea sharing for the betterment of the world. He believes that “the more information we share as a whole, the better we make our product. The better we make our products, the quicker it gets accepted into the market. The more people that buy it, the more business we all do.” 

To push the public towards seeking and understanding urban lumber, Torres claims that “creating partnerships with people, rather than seeing it as a threat, is essential in what we do.”


Publisher’s Note: This content is made possible by our Today’s Home Buyer Campaign Sponsors: Whirlpool, Vivint and Liftmaster. These companies take sustainability seriously, in both their products and their operations. Learn more about building and buying homes that are more affordable and less resource intensive.

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