Increasing the use of wood in construction brings numerous benefits for the environment, the economy, and the community.
Trees from sustainably managed forests absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in wood and timber products thereafter. The result is an endlessly renewable process of harvesting and growing.
As the pool of timber products grows, so too does the amount of carbon stored. Research published by ASBP suggests that, with policies to encourage more timber in construction, annual figures in UK buildings could reach 10MT CO₂ by 2020 and 22 MT CO₂ by 2050. To put that into context, the total embodied emissions for UK construction in 2010 were 33MT CO₂. Greater use of timber, therefore, could have a significant impact in reducing this number.
Timber products not only store sequestered carbon but require only very low energy inputs in production. Modern, engineered timber products can be used as replacements and alternatives to energy intensive materials such as steel and concrete.
Wood products have some of the best thermal performance properties of any mainstream construction material, so they can increase the energy efficiency and operational performance of buildings they are used in. Timber framed buildings are usually manufactured offsite so can often be far quicker to erect, saving on construction time and costs.
Increasing the demand for sustainable timber in construction will increase the demand for sustainably managed forest cover nationally and globally, with all of the attendant economic, social and environmental benefits this brings.
Therefore, we are calling on all those involved in construction and planning to deploy Wood First policies to encourage wood to be considered, where feasible, as the primary construction material in all new-build and refurbishment projects, from housing to schools to hospitals.
It is a low-cost, achievable solution toward building a low-carbon future for all.
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