A miracle from nature: wood

An old favourite ready to show off new tricks.

If we were tasked with inventing an innovative building material right now, knowing that it had to be able to respond to the pressing issues of conservation of resources and climate change, our answer would be wood. We take a look at this material that has always been around and yet somehow seems to come from the future.

of all waste generated and CO2 emissions can be traced back to the construction industry.

The houses we live in have a lot to answer for. Some 40% of the materials procured around the world end up in our places of residence and then living in them accounts for around a third of all energy used globally – not to mention the CO2 emissions this brings about. And things are only going to get worse. The number of people on the planet is constantly on the rise and this means the demand for housing is, too. It doesn’t take a lot to work out how this boom is linked to our carbon footprint and shortage of resources.

So where do we go from here? Carry on as we are and hope that it won’t be so bad after all? Shall we just bury our heads in the sand (whilst our traditional construction methods ensure that this too slowly disappears around us)? Or might it be better to take some responsibility and come up with new approaches that afford a multitude of benefits in addition to being a lot more sustainable? If this is what we want to do, then there really is just one solution available to us.

We need to stop barking up the wrong tree. We need to stop and actually look at the tree standing in front of us. Wood is the way forward for us. Did you know that wood has a number of properties that make it stand head and shoulders above all other construction materials? This incredibly versatile material is fully sustainable, environmentally friendly and good for our health. Even as they are growing, trees absorb CO2 – much more than is released when the material is processed later down the line. That makes wood the most powerful form of CO2 storage technology around.

Wood grows back. Again and again. All over the world. The fact that this resource is available on a global scale boosts local economies, promotes independence and cuts down on transportation, keeping CO2 levels even lower.

tonnes of CO2
One detached house made of wood saves the environment from a good 80 tonnes of CO2.

And wood has so much more to offer! Alongside its environmental benefits, wood is an impressively multi-functional material that is becoming an increasingly popular component in modern building projects. Here’s an overview of some of the key advantages:

Effective insulation

Wood’s natural composition makes it an excellent provider of insulation in summer and winter months alike.

Ideal ambience

Wood creates a pleasant living environment, maintaining optimum humidity levels and ensuring maximum comfort in the home.

High fire protection

With special treatment and processing, wood meets the most stringent of fire protection requirements.

Happy health

Wood helps prevent cardiovascular diseases and stress-related illnesses as well as improving concentration levels and reducing feelings of aggression.

Speedy construction

Extensive prefabrication work in timber-based construction projects means that the time spent on them overall is reduced significantly, allowing schedules to be followed closely and occupants to move in sooner.

Endless planning and design options

Wood is a lightweight construction material that is still strong and able to bear heavy loads, leaving planners free to design to their heart’s content with practically no limitations.

Sources:
www.handelsblatt.com: ‘Raubbau an einem wichtigen Rohstoff – Sand wird zur Schmuggelware’ (Overexploitation of a key resource – sand becomes contraband)
ARTE: Sand – Die neue Umweltkatastrophe (Sand – the latest environmental catastrophe)