Is Wood the Wonder Material for Construction?
Around the globe there are countless exciting buildings being constructed mainly from wood. Last year, Canada alone, had over 500 mid-rise timber buildings under construction (The Guardian). In France, President Macron decreed that all new publicly funded buildings must be at least 50% wood and that every building below eight storeys in height built for the Paris 2024 Olympics must be all wood (The Times).
The uptake of wooden construction is being driven by several factors. The main one being environmental – producing concrete and steel is a major contributor to global CO2 emissions. The finished materials are heavy and difficult to transport.
Wood, on the other hand, absorbs carbon as it grows. Trees extract CO2 from the atmosphere and lock it up until the wood is burned or decomposes. If you want to increase the supply of concrete and steel you have to dig up more raw materials and use more energy to process them. If you want to increase the supply of timber, you plant more forests.
Wood and Offsite Construction
Wood lends itself to offsite construction which is more productive and easier to manage than construction that uses traditional methods. Construction sites are cleaner, quieter and less disruptive to neighbours. The offsite process improves productivity and brings greater precision.
Perhaps the most powerful force driving the growth of wooden construction is the material itself. It is highly versatile. Walls, floors and roofs can be made from wood, as can the structural elements that hold buildings up. The material is also recyclable at the end of the building’s life.
Wood is pleasing to the eye and buildings made from timber have excellent acoustic properties. It is the ideal material for creating a restful space and a restful environment for living or working in. As we all become more aware of the need to actively promote mental and emotional wellbeing, the materials we are surrounded by have an important part to play.
For buildings that are healthier, more sustainable and easier to construct, wood is becoming the go-to material.