April Fools

Time to Desert the Island

A mass timber controversy compels BuildingGreen to bid a regretful farewell to its hippest and most popular event venue.

April 1, 2024

before and after photos of a carved wooden sign. before: island wood, a school in the woods. after: island, a school.

Artist’s rendering of a possible solution to IslandWood’s unsustainable name predicament

Photo: Cameron Zegers Photography (above). Artist’s rendering: BuildingGreen (below).
As the 2024 event season approaches for BuildingGreen’s Peer Networks, the Sustainable Design Leaders (SDL) have been looking forward to yet another summit at the beloved IslandWood venue on Washington’s Bainbridge Island.

But in the aftermath of Paula Melton’s two-part report released earlier this year, “Wood: Is It Still Good?” it’s become clear that mass timber and other wood products are not the bastion of “carbon neutrality” we’ve taken them to be. The groundbreaking series has led BuildingGreen to back away from anything that could be perceived as support for wood.

With her eagle-eye for editing, Melton has been enlisted to purge relevant homophones (would) from our online content. And in an effort to host a summit aligned with its sustainable building principles, BuildingGreen is also scrambling to find a new venue for the SDL Summit.

“We’ve talked with IslandWood about turning over a new leaf by changing their name to something more sustainable, like IslandClimate-SmartWood or IslandWouldn’t-Assume-Net-Zero … or just dropping the ‘Wood’ and going with ‘Island’,” shared BuildingGreen CEO and Sustainable Design Leaders facilitator Nadav Malin, Hon. AIA. “But it looks like it’s not in the cards for this year.”

IslandWood isn’t the only SDL summit venue ringing alarm bells.

Upon reassessing the locations of past venues, the BuildingGreen team notes that they regret hosting last year’s summit in Ashland, Massachusetts, due to the threat that coal combustion residuals (CCRs) pose to ecosystems and human health. Additionally, Malin recently apologized for two prior summits in Gulf Shores, Alabama (in light of the environmental impacts of golf courses) and one in Tempe, Arizona (since it creates substantial food waste to host an event inside of a fermented soy product).

“Moving forward, we’ll be paying closer attention to the ways that carbon-intensive and hazardous materials persist in the names of places where we convene our sustainability leaders,” announced Malin.

Sustainable Design Leaders who have signed up for the Summer 2024 Summit will be notified as soon as the Peer Networks team has found a suitable alternative venue. 

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