Paving a Path To Sustainability


Urban Wood Seminar & Workshop to Reclaim KC’s Fallen Trees


On December 12, 2017, the Green Business Network conducted a two-part Urban Wood Utilization Seminar and Workshop at the Anita B. Gorman Conservation Discovery Center. 144 people participated in one or both sessions, and the event was funded by the Kansas Forest Service with partnership support from the Kansas City Center For Architecture and Design and Missouri Department of Conservation.
With millions of ash trees expected to die from the Emerald Ash Borer (EAB), an invasive beetle, in the coming years, there is a great

opportunity to use these ash as well as other species of trees downed for various reasons (storms, age, disease) as “urban lumber.” According to the U.S. Forest Service, wood from all dead and diseased community trees could equal 3.8 billion board feet or nearly 30% of annual hardwood consumption in the United States.
The first session, “Designing With Urban Wood: A Practical Guide To Telling a Story While Saving The Planet”  brought architects, designers, landscape architects, contractors, and furniture makers together to learn about how incorporating “urban” wood into a design project can help set their clients apart from the crowd by telling a unique story with ecological significance. Attendees learned more about what urban wood is, where to get it, how it can tell a powerful story for clients, and how to successfully spec it into their next indoor or outdoor design project. Guests also watched firsthand how a tree goes from log to lumber with an on-site sawmill demonstration by the Kansas Forest Service.
The second session, “Partnering For Efficiency: Creating an Effective Regional Urban Wood Supply System,” included city and county staff, conservation specialists, sawyers and lumber distributors coming together to discuss the potential for creating a regional urban wood network. Dwayne Sperber of Wudeward Urban Forest Products discussed the advantages, critical components and challenges of creating an urban wood network using his own experience from helping to develop the Wisconsin Urban Wood Network. Area municipalities shared how they currently process their urban wood, and breakout sessions addressed what an effective local urban network might look like for Kansas City. Bridging The Gap’s Heartland Tree Alliance program  is continuing to explore regional network options.

REV’s Sustainability Circle® Kansas City Pilot Project



In 2015, Bridging The Gap’s Green Business Network convened a Sustainability Circle® with funding from KCP&L to help area businesses create or expand their portfolio of sustainability initiatives. The ultimate goal: Help them identify opportunities for efficiency of resources that ultimately result in cost-savings for their business and healthier, happier employees.


GBN_Sustainability_Circle_2015The Sustainability Circle®, created and managed by California-based consulting firm REV, is a 6-month program that brings together at least two representatives from 10 to 12 businesses to engage in a co-learning journey. Through monthly workshops, individual coaching, on-site meetings, and idea exchange, Circle Participants are guided in the creation of an individualized 5-year Sustainability Action Plan (SAP) spanning their organization’s operations, branding, and culture. The unique structure provides opportunities for participants to not only learn from program speakers and coaches, but also draw inspiration and motivation from their peers. Ten companies participated in the Kansas City Sustainability Circle®: City of Kansas City, Missouri; Posty Cards; KCPT; UMB; Kansas City, MO Public Schools; University of Missouri – Kansas City; Hilshire; Bayer CropScience, Surplus Exchange and the Kansas City Chiefs.


At the conclusion of the Circle project, participants identified an average of 28 initiatives per company with the estimated potential average annual savings per company of:







GBN_Sustainability_Circle_Session1At 6, 12, and 24 months after completing the SAPs, REV re-engages with each company to gather information about completed initiatives, learn of new initiatives and verify achieved savings. In April 2016, REV reported the first 6 months of actual results. The group as a whole had completed 57% of their total 6-month goals and saved more than $100,000 on average per company! Perhaps most exciting, however, was the many new initiatives added to participants’ sustainability action plans since completing the program.



Click here to read about the success of one participant’s initiative to engage its employees in sustainability action.