Feb 19, 2016
Building a sustainable future: Four reasons why timber systems is the key
As environmental worries over climate change have grown, successive governments have been forced to look at ways to reduce our impact on the planet's resources.
The construction industry has been a key focus in the UK and with a pledge to deliver 400,000 new homes by the end of this decade, using sustainable materials such as timber systems could provide great environmental benefits as well as forming part of the solution to the housing shortage.
While these homes are much-needed, delivering them will come with an environmental impact – given that the built environment is already one of the UK’s largest sources of emissions. With more still needing to be done to address climate change and meet EU targets, sustainability needs to be central to the construction of these homes.
With this in mind, timber systems should be considered the building material of the future for four reasons:
1. Taking a fabric first approach and using sustainable materials such as timber frame can produce energy efficient buildings both quickly and cost effectively. By designing a home as one integrated system, the requirement for additional fittings and equipment – such as heating or ventilation systems – is often reduced.
2. The carbon dioxide sequestered by trees and stored in timber products is greater than the carbon emitted throughout the rest of the production supply chain for timber products. This means buildings constructed with timber are actually net carbon stores rather than emitters!
3. Timber systems are designed to achieve high performance standards while delivering robust panelised products that can be used successfully across a wide range of projects from housing to multi-storey hotels, hospitals and schools. For those projects that have to be completed through the winter months, offsite manufacturing and timber systems can be a major benefit, allowing projects to be built through wind, rain and snow – on time and on budget.
4. Given the volume of new homes required to meet the UK’s housing shortage, and the percentage of those which will be required to be delivered at an affordable price, there’s a clear challenge for policymakers and industry around scalability. When you factor in the speed of build afforded by off-site methods using timber – where project times can be reduced by up to 14 weeks – the merits of the world’s only renewable, mainstream natural building material become very apparent. Through this route the construction industry could deliver much-needed homes more quickly while making a positive contribution to the UK’s climate change goals.