Embodied carbon emissions in the construction sector account for nearly 20 per cent of total greenhouse gas emissions in Australia. Over and above operational processes like energy and transport, it is increaingly important to consider the embodied carbon emissions in building materials used in the sector.
Responsibly sourced wood is the only renewable building material available; it is a naturally grown and engineered material which contributes to an overall removal of greenhouse gases from the atmosphere.
The production and processing of wood uses much less energy than most other building materials, giving wood products a significantly lower carbon footprint. Wood can be used to substitute for materials that require larger amounts of fossil fuels to be produced. In addition, wood products store the carbon that the growing trees have removed from the air.
There are many benefits of using responsibly sourced wood.
To effectively tackle climate change we must remove carbon from the atmosphere as well as reduce new carbon emissions into the atmosphere. Wood manages to achieve both of these.
Trees and wood products have a unique ability to store carbon. As trees grow, they take carbon out of the atmosphere. When the trees are harvested and used to make wood products, the carbon remains stored in the wood for the life of the product. 50% of the dry weight of wood is carbon.
Exposure to wooden furniture and fittings has real and measurable health and wellbeing benefits. It helps lower heart rate and stress responses and encourages greater interaction between people.
The production and processing of wood is highly energy efficient, giving wood products a very low carbon footprint. Wood can often be used in place of materials like steel, aluminium, concrete or plastics that require large amounts of energy to produce.
Responsibly sourced wood is renewable. Forests will regrow to provide a wide range of other benefits such as further carbon storage, oxygen generation and forest habitat.
The growing demand for responsibly sourced wood products that store carbon can be met with an increase in well-managed forests and plantations on marginal or cleared land.
Wood is a durable material for both homes and commercial buildings. When properly looked after it can last hundreds of years. Modern wood preservatives enhance natural durability.
Wood is very strong structurally. A comparison with steel and concrete shows that radiata pine structural timber, for example, has a strength for weight ratio 20 percent higher than structural steel and four to five times better than non reinforced concrete in compression.
Wood itself is a natural insulator due to air pockets within its cellular structure. As an insulator wood is 15 times better than masonry, 400 times better than steel, and 1,770 times better than aluminum.
Wood construction is fast and efficient. Wooden buildings can be built year-round in most climates.
Comparative studies of the economics of different wall framing systems indicate that, in terms of direct building expenses, timber frames are consistently the most cost-effective solution.
Wood is naturally beautiful and aesthetically pleasing.
Because woodwork is often done on site or pre-fabricated locally or regionally, choosing wood means supporting local jobs for carpenters and craftspeople.