Wood plays a critical role in building environmentally friendly and sustainable structures. Those who use it know that wood is an ideal green building material. The use of wood alone does not make a building green, but, when used effectively as part of intelligent building design, wood adds significantly to the sustainability of that building.
All wood in buildings sequesters CO2 for the life of the building (and beyond, if it is recycled or reclaimed). If these buildings use other materials like steel and concrete, they would emit CO2 into the atmosphere. Not to say these materials are bad, most buildings must contain steel and concrete in the foundations, but the key is to integrate wood into building designs where possible, when it makes sense to do so.
On average, a structure made entirely of steel and concrete releases 24 per cent and 47 per cent more air pollution, respectively. They produce 8 per cent and 23 per cent more solid waste; use 11 per cent and 81 per cent more resources; require 26 per cent and 57 per cent more energy; emit 34 and 81 per cent more greenhouse gases; and generate 4 and 3.5 times more water pollution.
Often people think of wood as a guy with a chainsaw going out in the woods and killing trees. There may not be the same perception about concrete, coal, copper or steel, but all of these materials have a significant impact on the land and land use change. Many of those impacts are permanent, whereas forestry has only a temporary impact. Many forests are sustainably harvested and re-planted; we may not be around long enough to see that 100 year old forest grow to that age again, but it will.
Not all energy is not created equal… Both the amount and type of energy used in production and manufacturing is quite different. For example, in wood the sawdust, chips and waste products from the manufacturing process are used to heat the drying kilns. Steel requires extreme heat and chemical cleaners and it also releases carbon that has been locked up for millions of years, releasing mass quantities of CO2. Even if you end up burning wood, you’re just putting back the CO2 that was recently in the atmosphere, not adding more that had been locked away long term in oil and gas deposits.
In North America the average house lasts 38 years. The vast majority are torn down not because of the building material used or because they are decrepit, but because they no longer meet the needs of the owner. A well designed, constructed and protected wood structure/home can last hundreds of years. Wood construction is also highly adaptable in building design. It can be re-arranged, removed/reclaimed and re-introduced in to new construction more easily than other materials. Therefore an increased use of wood could possibly result in increased service lives and less resources wasted. Not to mention wood is one of the most ancient, tried-and-true materials of them all.
Just putting in some wood doesn’t make a building green. No matter how many green materials you put into a building, if it isn’t appropriate and it doesn’t perform its function properly, it will be self defeating.
We design log and timber frame structures that are meant to last 100 plus years, looking at the whole system and the buildings intended function. With an enhanced building system and some innovative design techniques, we can ensure your home design is eternal, withstanding the test of time.
Contact us for additional details.