With a continued demand for increased housing stock becoming more and more prevalent, it is essential that we utilize as many construction materials as possible. However, couple this with an increase in people awareness of the environmental impacts new developments place on the worlds natural resources it is essential that we turn to more sustainable methods of construction.
Whilst production of concrete and steel require large amounts of heat to produce them which leads to greater use of coal and oil consumption in power stations, one of the least environmentally impacting materials that offers many of the same advantages is timber.
Timber is low carbon, easily worked into various building materials, has structural properties and above all is sustainable if taken from managed forests.
Use of Timber as a Structural Material
Suitable for a wide variety of structural uses, timber is the perfect building material as it is lightweight to manoeuvre yet extremely strong and rigid . Used more and more often in the building of new house, a timber framed building is quick to erect, highly insulated and achieves a lower carbon footprint than traditional brick & block construction leading to reduced environmental impact.
Suitable for a variety of structural uses depending on the size of timbers used, it can be designed to achieve large spans making it ideal for floor joists, roof trusses and lintels used in the make up of buildings.
Use of Timber Inside the Home
In addition to providing structural properties, timber is perfect for many areas inside the house including room partitioning, the construction of internal doors and skirting boards and timber windows. In addition to this, modern manufacturing techniques even allow waste wood and sawdust to be used for practical purposes such as the building of kitchen cabinets and MDF mouldings.
Use of Timber Outside the Home
Due to the associated costs of production, the majority of timber used externally tends to be softwood. Whilst this form of timber is cheap to produce, the drawback is that if it is not properly maintained it will start to break down and degrade over a relatively short period of time. For this reason, softwood timber should be either pressure treated with a preservative or be painted or stained prior to exposing it to the elements. Areas where softwood timber is most commonly used is in the construction of fascia boards, windows, wooden driveway gates and wooden fence panels.
Where does this Sustainable Timber Come From?
The vast majority of timber used in construction is taken from well managed forests to ensure long term sustainability. Most countries have their own forestry commission that looks after this woodland, decides what trees can be felled and in what areas. It is not just a case of taking a chain saw to a forest at random. The idea is to manage the forests in a way that meets the needs of the construction industry coupled with preserving the environment. In addition to this, the Forestry Commission or FSC will also manage the wildlife and habitat created within these woodlands so they can be enjoyed by future generations.
In conclusion, using timber in construction is a sensible option that reduces our carbon footprint whilst meeting the needs of the building industry as a whole.