Planet Ark – Make it Wood
Planet Ark Environmental Foundation’s Make It
Wood campaign aims to increase the use of responsibly sourced wood as a
building material. That’s because responsibly sourced wood is the only major
building material that helps tackle climate change. It’s renewable – the
ultimate renewable – it stores carbon and has much less embodied energy than
other, more carbon-intensive building materials.
We also know that wood is good for our health
and wellbeing and can help to reduce blood pressure and heart rate. It’s
becoming increasingly clear that using wood and biophilic design brings the
benefits of nature into our homes, offices and other built environments.
New research on urban planning shows that
workers are more productive, students learn better, patients heal faster and
we’re all happier when we’re surrounded by natural elements like plants and
benefits of timber
The IPCC recently issued its latest report
with a stark warning about how long we have left to moderate CO2 emissions
and to halt global warming. It is no longer enough to reduce emissions, we need
to start actively reducing the CO2 already in the
The planting of more trees is the only
realistic method we have of reducing atmospheric carbon but, in Australia and
around the world, moves to encourage more forests and plantations are failing
to generate anywhere near the levels required. Furthermore, science tells us
that trees are only really effective at carbon absorption during the growth
stages. Once they mature, the wood needs to be harvested and new trees planted,
supported by the active use of certification schemes like FSC and/or
Responsible Wood (PEFC).
In the built environment wood provides thee
significant environmental benefits.
Firstly, wood is the only large-scale
renewable building material currently available. Until recently, the tallest
timber building in the world was a university residence building in Vancouver,
Canada. It is 18 storeys or 53 metres tall, and incorporates 2,233 cubic metres
of engineered timber in its structure. Calculations have shown that the volume
of timber used would have been regrown in US and Canadian forests in a mere six
Secondly, when wooden products are used in
the construction of buildings, they provide long-term carbon storage – about
half of the dry weight of wood is carbon, which is stored for as long as the
building exists. The oldest timber building in the world is the Horyuji Temple
in Japan, which has been storing timber since 710, over thirteen hundred years!
And thirdly, using wood significantly reduces
the CO2 emissions that are produced when using conventional
materials, which have significantly higher levels of embodied energy. As a rule
of thumb if we replace a cubic metre of a solid material like concrete with a
cubic metre of timber, this will result in a reduction of approximately 1000Kg
(1 tonne) of CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere.
the more we build using timber, the more carbon we can store, and the more
emissions can be reduced, which in turn will create an increased demand for
timber that will help drive reforestation.
The built environment is the primary source
of CO2 emissions in Australia and around the world. It is
really important to both understand and decrease the embodied energy used in
construction. Using more wood in construction undoubtedly has the potential to
significantly reduce the impact of climate change.