Reclaimed Lumber Company Soaks Up the Sun
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Longleaf Lumber is a reclaimed and antique lumber mill, who salvage woods throughout the Eastern United States and mills them into flooring, paneling, stair treads, mouldings and other fine reclaimed wood products. Reclaimed wood has grown in popularity as interior designers fall in love with the look and history of historic woods, while also appreciating their inherent sustainability. We spoke with Marc Poirier, founder of Longleaf Lumber, about the solar project he had installed on an expansion of his facility in Berwick, Maine.
RE: Marc, thanks for chatting with us. Can you tell us a bit about Longleaf Lumber and how you got interested in solar?
MP: I started out in general contracting, in particular historic renovation, and through that work had the need for a lot of reclaimed lumber. Around 20 years ago there wasn’t much of it around. Longleaf started as a small shop in Somerville, MA and we expanded into Berwick, ME in 2004. Our growth has continued and recently we started construction on a new building and I wanted to see if solar would be a good fit.
I had met [ReVision co-founder] Fortunat Mueller at an open house for a shared client of ours, and asked him what it would look like to get solar for our business. It turned out we were eligible for a USDA REAP grant, as well as a number of federal incentives, and we were able to design and ultimately install a 36.7 kilowatt solar electric array. It’s projected to cover about 15% of our electric use for the new building.
RE: How has the reclaimed lumber industry changed since you’ve been in business?
MP: The quality of the product has improved a lot and buyers are much more aware of what it is. Architects will now spec reclaimed wood as part of a building project and LEED certifications recognize it as a sustainable recycled material. It’s all part of a general trend towards more responsible construction. My goal is to show people how a reclaimed piece of heart pine or American chestnut is just as rare and exotic as Bubinga from West Africa or Mahogany from South America.
RE: And do you think your customers will appreciate that a business like yours has installed solar?
MP: I see our two businesses – solar power and reclaimed wood – as an evolution of the public consciousness towards a more responsible use of resources. There are a lot of ‘green’ minded people in New England who really appreciate that you can have something that is both aesthetically beautiful and better for the planet.
Seeing all the development in my industry as well as solar is very encouraging. There is huge potential for new, green jobs to replace the jobs lost in our historic papermaking and lumber industries.