Wood has been widely used for construction since ancient times, but recent shock and concern about worldwide deforestation (13 million hectares destroyed annually) has led many to question whether or not they should continue to use it.
If it comes from a sustainable source, then absolutely. Let’s have a look at some of the most compelling arguments for green building practices in architecture, including the use of sustainable timber.
Carbon Capture And Storage
In order to perform photosynthesis, trees must take up carbon dioxide. Old trees in a natural forest die and degrade, releasing practically all of the carbon they’ve stored over their life into the air (though some will linger in leaf litter and dirt).
Most people believe that reducing forest cover to make way for development will have negative effects on the ecology and climate.
If you mean “traditional” (destructive) logging, then you are correct. Sustainable forestry, on the other hand, involves the planting of at least as many new trees as are cut down. Carbon in wood products is said to be “locked up” so long as the product does not decompose by fire or decay. Hence, it is beneficial to the ecosystem since when trees are cut, their carbon is stored in lumber and they are substituted with fresh young trees.
For every cubic meter of wood, almost a tonne of carbon is stored. Moreover, trees rapidly take in carbon throughout their developing stages but take in less as they get older.
So, sustainably managed forests, where only responsibly harvested timber is used and the rest of the forest is left undisturbed, have the potential to be even more efficient carbon stores than natural forests.
Low Embodied Energy
When compared to other popular building materials like steel, concrete, or aluminium, the amount of energy required to process, produce, and transport sustainable timber is far lower. This is mostly because timber can be processed with relatively little effort compared to other materials. Because embodied carbon makes up 30%-50% of the total carbon footprint, this might have a significant effect.
Its production results in lower emissions of sulfur dioxide, carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, particulate matter, and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) than competing materials.
Sturdy, Durable, And Easy To Care For
Eco-friendly wood lasts for a very long time. The frames of many Tudor buildings are just one example of well-made wooden structures that persist for centuries. If you don’t mind the gradual discoloration that comes with its use, it’s also very low-cost and low-maintenance compared to other materials.
Buildings of up to eight stories in height can be safely constructed from it, and because of recent technological advancements, timber is now being considered for usage in skyscrapers.
Despite its regular use as a fuel source, timber surprisingly possesses high levels of fire resistance. The reason for this is that its combustion behaviour is considerably more predictable than that of steel, which collapses spectacularly once a “flash point” is achieved.
One of the greatest long-term benefits of sustainable timber is that it is inherently renewable.
In comparison to the geological duration required to regenerate the raw elements used to make bricks, steel, and polymers, the time required to grow a tree to harvest size is finite (25–80 years).
As a result of its widespread acceptance as a symbol of comfort and warmth, wood has become an extremely popular building material. Another advantage of using natural materials is that they help a building integrate into its surroundings, which is especially important in more rural settings. Projects with this kind of subtle visual impact often gain planning permission in politically sensitive areas.
Wood is not only aesthetically pleasing but also highly functional in a wide variety of contexts. In terms of coluor, texture, and usefulness, wood from various tree species can’t be compared. Wood competes with plastic in many ways. It can be used to make structural frames, exterior cladding and joinery, decorative finishes, and furniture.
Easy And Fast Construction
In comparison to their stone and brick counterparts, timber-framed structures can be erected in significantly less time. Home and business owners alike can benefit greatly from a reduction in the length of time it takes to construct their buildings. Carpenters are often less expensive than other skilled tradespeople like bricklayers, and they have the training and experience to build using sustainable lumber.
Wood is naturally thermally insulating, and a timber frame provides more room for insulation than a masonry building.
Naturally, a well-insulated home uses less fossil fuel for heating and cooling.
In addition to the carbon captured and stored by the timber itself and the emissions saved by substituting less energy-demanding products, this also contributes to a decrease in carbon emissions in an indirect fashion.
Can Source Reclaimed Wood
Although only 35%-45% of a log may be used to create huge pieces of sawn timber, the rest of the wood can be used to create a variety of lesser-value goods such as furniture, fence, fiberboard, hollow blocks, wood fuel, or maybe even sawdust for animals.
For instance, Sussex recently acquired a finger-jointing machine, which uses non-toxic glues to reassemble small pieces of wood into bigger ones.
Reusing timber from demolished buildings is another option for extending the time that the carbon it has stored is unavailable for human activities. While the possibility exists, in practice, it is quite unusual.
Wood can be properly composted or used as fuel if no other use is possible. Wood burning is not always preferable since it releases carbon that was stored in the wood into the air. But, if wood fuel is used in place of fossil fuels, the net effect is beneficial to the environment because the carbon exhaled is equal to what the living tree initially absorbed.
At Timbeck we understand the importance of using sustainable timber options with our work. If you would like to learn more, get in touch with us today.