Benefits of Building with Wood

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It’s easy for the building industry to take a lot of criticism when it comes to environmental practices.  There is the harvesting of minerals/materials for construction, the ecological footprint of home building, land consumption, transporting materials and people, and waste generated.  Due to these reasons, the industry will definitely take advantage of any opportunity it can get to save some face by publicizing the use of “green” materials or  “green” processes.  Not  surprisingly though, is that wood gets overlooked in this conversation among the general population.  Mainly because the general population isn’t interested in reading details on the building industry until it’s in the mainstream, i.e. newspapers, twitter, blogs.  This is not to the fault of the masses, reading such information is like reading medical journals, it is full of jargon.  So unfortunately wood has maintained some misrepresentations in the world, but today I’m hoping to expand and enlighten minds on the topic of wood.  Are you ready?  I am…So exciting I know…Wood.

Sustainable

Farming

You didn’t misread that, I did not intend to spell framing and got it wrong.  I meant farming…like farming corn, but I’m talking about wood here.  But more on that in a bit.  So of course the big argument against wood is that it comes from the forest industry (obviously), which supports the harvesting, and some would say destruction of large amounts of forest.  While it’s true that the forestry sector does cover a large land mass within Canadian provinces, much of the land used for forestry is done so in development fields that are managed to produce timber as the industry requires it, so the land itself can be re-used for more growing in time. This outlines the most sustainable feature of wood, it’s renewable, something that no other large-scale building material can match.  Rock and metal are a finite resource.  A study by Yale University in 2006 found that without proper recycling, world metals including copper, zinc and many more, would face depletion as long as the world’s population continues to increase and more nations begin using services and building practices of developed nations.  Wood 1.  Metal/Rock 0.

Manufacturing

Right from the beginning of the process of creating a building material, wood demonstrates its sustainable features as it requires less manufacturing to create wood products than any other large-scale building product, therefore using less energy in factories to produce.  When it gets on a job site, wood is lightweight and easy to use in building practices, further reducing it’s carbon footprint as it requires less time and energy to construct than other products.

The dedicated lands for developing forestry products ensure we are continually producing trees that will consume CO2 and emit oxygen for our environment.  And something the average consumer will not know is that when trees are harvested, the CO2 absorbed over the trees lifetime is locked away in the product.  The only way the CO2 will be released is through burning, which then makes it a carbon neutral product that isn’t positively or negatively affecting the environment.  And of course wood burning can be used as a heat source, decreasing dependency on other forms of heat like gas, oil and electric.  I think this tips the scales back in favour of an environmental positive.

Aesthetic Purposes

Acoustics 

Getting away from the sustainable features of wood, it still carries many benefits.  As a solid, flexible product, wood is a great material for sound transmission, making it an ideal choice for acoustical buildings/purposes.  There are many great concert halls, and church’s designed with wood for acoustical purposes.  Additionally, due to the ease of it’s handling in the construction phase, wood can be built in pre-fabricated, modular systems in factories and shipped to it’s destination, this makes it efficient to be designed and produced on a large scale for faster development.  This may not interest you as much, until you consider what kinds of homes and shelters are built after natural disasters that destroy large amounts of housing.

 

Finishing

And finally, as a building product with many uses, wood can be used for framing and finishing, together…at the same time…from the same piece of wood.  When using post and beam construction (heavy timber construction), wood can be used for structural and finishing purposes, eliminating the need to cover the structural supports with another product to finish the surface.  This practice of using wood will reduce the amount of materials used on a project, saving money, resources, time, and increases aesthetic appeal in a world of cookie cutter homes (McMansions) and buildings that lack any definitive character.  Take a look at the photo here, it is a great representation of using timbers for structure and finish.

If you are interested in reading more about the benefits of building with wood, check out the Canadian Wood Council or Wood Works!.    Contact Tucker Design/Build at 1-855-288-2537, or jonathan@tuckerdesignbuild.ca to setup an appointment for your next project and consider all of the benefits of one dynamic material, wood.