DCI and Dartmouth furniture project

BACKSTORY

Dartmouth College is one of the oldest and most respected institutions of higher learning in America. It was founded in 1769 as the nation’s ninth oldest college. A member of the Ivy League, Dartmouth consistently ranks among the top universities in the country according to U.S. News and World Report.

Dartmouth occupies a beautiful rural campus in Hanover, NH with 4,289 undergraduates and approximately 2000 graduate students. Over 90 percent of students occupy on-campus housing, which includes residence halls, fraternity and sorority houses, college-approved coeds, and undergraduate societies.

In 2005, DCI forged an innovative partnership with Dartmouth College to build solid hardwood furniture made from timber harvested from their own land. Here’s the backstory.

In the late 1700’s and early 1800’s, Dartmouth College was the beneficiary of two land grants from the state of New Hampshire to help pay for operating expenses. As part of the second land grant, referred to as the “Grant”, the college owns and manages 27,000 acres of woodland in the Northern Forest region of New Hampshire.


PROCESS & APPROACH

In 2005, Dartmouth College approached DCI with a unique and exciting proposition. Could we partner with them to build furniture for their campus made from trees harvested on land they owned?

We were already partners with the college, supplying them with solid hardwood furniture that was harvested in the Northeast. But now they wanted us to furnish their new residence halls with over 500 custom sets of maple bookshelves, desks, dressers and beds made from their own trees.

We love innovative partnerships, especially when they advance the values of sustainability, and we naturally embraced this opportunity.

First, we worked with the college forester to select and harvest timber from Dartmouth’s sustainably managed forests in partnership with the school’s Grant Management Committee and in alignment with their Forest Management Plan.

At DCI, we have the unique ability to process lumber at our own saw mill. This allowed us to keep the sourcing, milling, and manufacturing of Dartmouth’s residence hall furniture completely local. Then we had the pleasure of installing over 500 sets of locally sourced and manufactured solid maple bookshelves, desks, dressers and beds.

As an added bonus, because our mill and our factory are so close to Dartmouth, and because they supplied the timber, we were able to give them a significant discount on the price.


RESULTS

Think globally and act locally. That’s a core tenet of sustainability and it’s exactly what the DCI/ Dartmouth partnership represents. When we act locally to implement sustainable values, we affect the interconnected web of the biosphere. Here are a few of the environmental benefits that emerged from this partnership.

  • Zero Waste: Through DCI’s unique vertical integration process, we control every stage of manufacturing and reuse, reclaim, and recycle all wood by-products.
  • Minimal Carbon Footprint: Wood by-products power our steam generators. Wood fuel is a clean burning renewable resource.
  • Locally Sourced: The distance from Dartmouth to our sawmill is 28 miles. By sourcing raw materials (timber) locally, we minimized travel distances and reduced fossil fuel consumption and thus our carbon footprint.
  • Locally Built: We manufacture our furniture in a state of the art waste-free facility in Lisbon, NH, close to Dartmouth. Consequently, Dartmouth supports a local business and gets to support the community and local economy.
  • Setting an Example: Creating a model project of sustainability is inspiring for everyone. But more importantly, it sends a message to students. Cross-sectional partnerships between business and educational institutions can be models for environmental sustainability.
View Case Study (PDF)

Project Location: Hanover, New Hampshire

Project Size: Two Residence Halls (503 Room Sets), Campus (3,000 Beds)

Building Type: College Residence Halls

Project Team: DCI, Dartmouth College

Product List: Maple Bed, Bookshelf, Desk, and Dresser


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