One More Thing From Greenbuild 2011: Accoya® Modified Wood by Accsys Technologies

Accoya installation

Courtesy of Accsys Technologies

When it comes to wood, I have personally aligned myself more with locally grown products as opposed to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified products.  Not that FSC isn’t a good thing — it is– but if given the choice I would probably choose a local wood over an imported FSC product.  However, there was one overseas wood product with certifications out the ying yang at this year’s Greenbuild Expo that really intrigued me: Accoya® wood by Accsys Technologies.

This product seems to defy all reason. The Accoya® wood production process takes sustainably-sourced, fast growing softwood (like pine) and, in a non-toxic process that ‘enables nature’, creates a new durable, stable and beautiful product that requires far less maintenance than other woods used for construction.  The cell structure is altered during this process so that it actually becomes impervious to moisture and indigestible to insects.  In fact, insects no longer recognize the wood as food.  (I wish someone would do this to french fries.)

The product, which has been used in Europe to build everything from windows to water canals, is gaining visibility in the US, and everywhere else.  It is my understanding that the company is hoping to deploy the process known as “acetylation” in plants throughout the world.  When they do, I may be the first in line to purchase a load for a new deck, fencing, gazebo, or whatever.

Currently the company performs its magic on wood at its factory in Arnhem in The Netherlands.  I also read that there may be plans underway for construction of a plant in (you guessed it) China.

Okay – I don’t love that, but what I do love is that Accoya® wood is:

  • Virtually rot proof
  • Impervious to moisture & insects
  • Made from FSC or other regionally certified woods
  • Free of any toxic additives that would prohibit it from being recycled or even composted – thus releasing you from the hassle of disposing of pressure treated wood
  • Has superior resistance to UV degradation when translucent coated

Accoya® is available in the US – albeit through a very limited number of distributorships.  And it’s expensive—probably more expensive than the highest end tropical woods.  But, I think it is an exciting innovation that I would love to see come to the US.  And I sure wouldn’t mind having a wooden deck or shutters that don’t require regular upkeep and maintenance.

7 Responses »

  1. While some really good building products come from the Netherlands, I wonder how and where the wood product is harvested, shipped, then repackaged, then shipped again.. Seems like the long way around to be “Green”. The use of the recycled plastic products really need a wide market and need to be encouraged.. I remember when the pressure treated wood came out and they said it would not hurt anyone.. so they build outdoor play structures with it.. that had to be then destroyed.. and put off limits for children etc.. As a general rule I use the recycled plastic decking materials anywhere people can touch… and use the pressure treated local woods for structure only..

    • Kenneth,

      The wood is sustainably harvested and has FSC certifications. I believe the trees come from New Zealand pine that is shipped to The Netherlands for processing. Accoya is heavy on certifications, so I wouldn’t be at all surprised if the packaging stands up to the highest green standards. If you really want to dig deep, go to the website. Here’s a good starting point: http://www.accoya.com/sustainability/the-future/. There’s a lot of documentation on the site.

  2. I think it would be a far better to export the technology than the product. Price would come down and would be a better green alternative as we could use local products, no shipping etc.

    • I have to echo the others as when reading the article I was thinking there must be a better way to get the product in the U.S. than shipping it overseas.

      If the Accoya® folks don’t have the dollars to build a plant or two in the U.S. then maybe they can partner or license the technology to a company willing to make the investment.

      Assuming the process they use to transform the wood doesn’t harm the environment it looks like a very promising technology.

  3. Interesting product. I like that the fact it is FSC certified, but coming from another continent dilutes its appeal somewhat. Fortunately we do have some FSC certified options in other wood products that are from North America.

  4. I would have to agree with Jeff that it would make more sense to export the technology to the sourse of the wood rather than ship sroducts back and forth across the globe. As with any new technology, we need to see the test of time and watch how well the product(s) hold up. I look forward to it…

  5. If the product is altered to make it indigestible to insects, then how would it be composted? Sounds interesting, but unless there is a way to close the recycling loop I am not going to get too excited.

Leave a Response