Why use sustainable timber in your next construction project?

Why use sustainable timber in your next construction project?

Published on Tuesday, September 12, 2017


We’re incredibly passionate about timber’s exceptional qualities when it comes to sustainable construction. Though its sustainable qualities undoubtedly help timber stand out from the range of alternative construction materials out there, the vast range of additional benefits of timber include:

  • It looks fantastic
  • It’s versatile
  • It’s durable
  • It’s good for our health
  • It improves air quality by reducing humidity
  • It’s surprisingly fire resistant

In this blog, we’re going to be focusing in on one of timber’s most impressive and important qualities to consider when choosing material for your next project: sustainability.

Timber is renewable

Timber comes from trees, which are totally renewable as they can be replanted. Materials used to make steel or plastic aren’t renewable as they are man-made from other materials such as iron or sand, and we only have a finite amount of these materials left on earth.

Timber has a low ecological footprint as we always have the ability to replant trees. As long as there is a sustainable plan for harvesting and reforestation, timber’s long-term prospects are looking good.

There’s no waste

As you may know, leftover timber can be reused or recycled, so nothing needs to go to waste, and the environment comes to no harm: it’s incredibly eco-friendly.

Think of the vast array of different products that can be made from offcuts… paper, chipboard, blocks of wood or furniture parts. We could keep going, but that is a whole other topic!

Reclaiming timber is also a growing trend, repurposing previously-used wood to create furniture or other masterpieces. This rustic look is becoming particularly popular amongst woodworkers and DIYers.

According to TRADA Technology, the recycling rate of wood waste from construction is 31%, though it can eventually be as high as 70% if energy recovery is considered. Where recycling isn’t possible, wood can still be used for energy generation or directly for fuel.

Timber is biodegradable

We’ve all seen those harrowing images of waste being tipped into a landfill. The contents of a landfill break down at a very slow rate, burdening future generations.

Timber to the rescue.

There is little cause for timber to be thrown into a landfill, other than perhaps ash or treated wood that contains harmful chemicals, and timber naturally biodegrades so it doesn’t spend a lengthy amount of time clogging up landfills.

Timber weighs less

Other materials such as steel and concrete are heavy and expensive to transport, guzzling fuel along their transportation journey. Timber weighs significantly less, so it is the eco-friendly option when it comes to travel, too.

Making timber uses less energy

Creating steel and concrete, for example, is a complex and energy-expensive process. Running the machinery involved in their production demands an inordinate amount of non-renewable energy.

Processing timber is a much less energy-consuming process (and we certainly know a thing or two about timber machinery!). Therefore, it’s less costly, both in the monetary and environmental sense.

Why? It’s simple: other materials are man-made, meaning it costs more money and energy to make them. As timber is a raw material extracted from the earth, most of the work is already done for us - it just needs to be machined and treated.

Timber absorbs carbon

Across the world, we’re trying to prevent too much carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere as it is a major cause of global warming.

As trees grow, they soak up carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for photosynthesis. Their trunks keep it stored so we can take our hats off to wood for saving us from at least some of that potentially harmful CO2.

Timber’s also all natural, so it doesn’t contain other toxic chemicals. The assurance that timber is clean and safe for our environment is particularly important in today’s climate.

Timber is an insulator

Its natural properties means wood holds heat in throughout cold spells, and expels heat in the warm weather which keeps your building cool. This saves the homeowner money and reduces the amount of energy needed to heat the home as, for a large detached house, timber saves 33% less energy than a standard building using other typical construction materials.

Timber can be treated

When it comes to external buildings, cladding or decking, there are many solutions available to prevent discolouration or wearing of the top quality sheen of the natural timber, thus saving cost and energy in repairs, reconstructions or refits. Paint, heat treatment or UV protectant are all effective solutions when it comes to protecting timber. Should you eventually require a full refurbishment, you can also be rest assured that the disposal of your timber can be completely eco-friendly through the options of reuse and recycling.

Why should timber be harvested from sustainable sources?

Did you know “deforestation is the world’s second largest source of greenhouse gas emissions?”Ensuring timber comes from well-managed forests is just one step we take to help contribute positively to the future of our environment.

Sustainable forests ensure that trees harvested are replaced with seedlings - thus ensuring a minimal effect of the environment. It’s not just a matter of cutting down and replanting trees, of course. The landscape is carefully managed to ensure minimal impact to the ecosystem and wildlife of the forest. Unsustainable forests involve the removal of trees with little consideration as to how the natural environment can be maintained.

Sustainable forests are also often suitable environments for leisure activities, tourism, wildlife or other types of work, thus contributing to the local economy also.

We’re committed

Of course, timber’s long-term future requires merchants like ourselves to ensure its consumption and replenishment is managed sustainably.

There are a number of steps we, as a timber merchant, take to ensure the timber we supply has been ethically sourced with all environmental concerns taken into consideration:

  • Our timber originates from environmentally managed woodlands, where possible.
  • We buy certified timber from companies who recognise and respond to their environmental responsibilities.
  • We are certified suppliers for both FSC ® and PEFC.
  • All wood and wood-based products will be legally harvested, without violation of traditional and civil rights.
  • We only buy wood from forests not being converted to plantation or non-forest use.
  • We don’t accept wood from genetically-modified trees.
  • Species listed in Appendices II of CITIES are not acceptable, unless subject to CITIES approval.
  • Regular supplier visits.

As well as senior purchasing directors regularly attending seminars and trade association meetings to keep the whole company on top of all new environmental issues, we also regularly review our own energy use, including any products or chemicals.

We recently invested £1million in our sawmill facility, purchasing state-of-the-art machinery that provides increased waste efficiency when profiling wood. So, as well as catering to customers’ exact demands, we’re able to do more for the environment - a bit of a win-win, if you don’t mind us saying.

We hope our energy efficient processes prove our commitment to responsible energy management. It’s our aim to achieve a 5% energy saving each year for the next three years, and we believe all businesses should strive to achieve the same.

The future is green

The UK government initially committed to making new builds carbon neutral, but these regulations were axed in 2015. The Climate Change Act requires an 80% reduction in carbon emissions from homes, so we’re all certainly very aware of the changes that need to be made… now, the challenge is to make sure this change happens.

As well as increasingly coming out on top for aesthetics and design, timber’s eco-friendly qualities are making it a fan favourite amongst the architectural community. As more construction professionals have become aware of the importance of sustainability, timber’s popularity grows. Coincidence? We think not.

If you want to talk timber, call into our showroom and chat to our expert team. For up-to-the-minute information and expertise, follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Let us know why you love timber, too!