Funding Innovation: Preserving Heritage Wood in Nova Scotia

Funding Recipients
A building is being demolished

Due to the rise of urbanization and development, it is estimated that Canada disposes of over 4 million tonnes of lumber and waste wood each year. To help address the need to recover this precious resource and reintroduce it back into the supply chain, Divert NS has provided $121,000 in value-added funding to YORKS Timberstone, a wood recycling service based in Nova Scotia.

Established in 2017, YORKS Timberstone deconstructs and resells century old wood and stone as a sustainable, architecturally rich alternative to conventional building materials, without causing further stress to diminishing and threatened living forests. The abandoned historic barns and buildings YORKS carefully dismantles are some of the oldest in North America dating back to 17th century French Acadia. They upcycle most of the building materials (wood, metal, stone) reintroducing them back into the supply chain and providing a closed-loop product. This process keeps useable materials out of landfills and contributes to the growth of the circular economy. 

Honouring the efforts of the craftsmen who built the historic buildings, YORKS deconstructs in reverse, first starting with the roof, one board at a time, pulling multiple generations of nails off the wood, and then working their way down. Once the building is completely dismantled, a site cleanup takes place, bringing the land back to its natural state. Along the way, the nature and history of each heritage structure is documented. For example, wood composition is determined using dendrochronology (tree ring analysis) and artifacts found at the site such as clay pipes, nails, and Roman numerals on the wood can help to explain the history of the structure.

To date, YORKS has dismantled over 50 buildings, barns, and churches across Nova Scotia with a salvage rate averaging 95% and diverting 6,250 tonnes of waste wood from landfill. Further, by upcycling lumber back into the supply chain, YORKS sequesters carbon that would otherwise be released by new harvests. 

Funding from Divert NS will allow YORKS to purchase processing equipment to streamline their dismantling operations and to transform waste wood into upcycled heritage lumber more efficiently. This will result in lower carbon emissions and faster project turnaround times allowing them to take on more projects and increase their environmental impact. 

The work that YORKS is doing is critically relevant to the global charge for the protection and preservation of our environment. It is not surprising, therefore, that YORKS was among seven winners that were recognized at the Divert NS 2023 Mobius Awards for Small Business of the Year for their contribution to reducing waste and protecting the environment in Nova Scotia.

YORKS receive their award at the Divert NS 2023 Mobius Awards