According to many energy experts, timber is a basic, all-natural building material that benefits the environment and occupant health—with some insisting that timber is the greatest renewable building material available around the world.
Others disagree, pointing to the environmental and economic benefits of other materials, such as concrete. Yet in this instance, one also must consider the amount of greenhouse gas emissions produced during the manufacturing of cement.
Many experts assert that timber is singular in its ability to store carbon. And when harvested and converted to housing products, the carbon remains stored for the life of the product and is not released into the atmosphere.
In addition, the production of wood is widely considered energy and carbon intensive. Experts point out that that conversion of a single cubic meter of solid materials for one cubic meter of timber will curtail the emission of one tonne of carbon dioxide into the air. And, due to its many and inherent air pockets, wood serves as a sound thermal insulator—thus reducing energy consumption and heating and cooling bills.
Wood is also credited for its properties of prefabrication, thus alleviating burdens on workers by reducing labour time, cost and noise and improving work site safety, reducing scaffolding and back-propping, reducing equipment use, etc.
And surprisingly the phrase ‘warm woods’ really does apply in this instance; as the natural, pure veneer of timber is known to appeal to and relax many people.
Of course, like any other material, timber has its drawbacks, ranging from termite susceptibility to fire ratings. Yet these issues can be addressed through techniques of enhanced design; and in terms of engineering, it is advised that timber be covered in fire-resistant materials to address the fire ratings issue.
Overall, experts point to the incredible hot and cold conductivity of wood as a prime drawing point to this material. Wood also guarantees improved insulation and solar preservation, and works well with other materials.
But is timber good for the health? Many experts say yes, as wood is a breathable building material that stores excess humidity. So by balancing humidity levels within the walls of homes and businesses, these structures will be more comfortable and less conducive to infections, skin irritations, bacteria, etc.
Once all design, delivery, acoustic, pest-related and connection issues are addressed, it is evident that timber just may be the material of the future—one that, furthermore, helps us to ensure and guarantee a brighter and more sustainable tomorrow.