Wood Building Materials Are Sustainable and Renewable

May 3, 2015


Wood is a sustainable, renewable building material

Everything old is new again, especially when it comes to construction. Suddenly, architects and builders around the world are discovering that wood building materials are sustainable and renewable — and beautiful,too.

Wood has many advantages over traditional building materials such as concrete or steel. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. When trees are made into building materials, that carbon dioxide remains sequestered in the finished products. When wooden building materials reach the end of their useful life, they are often be repurposed or recycled into new products. All that stored carbon dioxide is kept out of the atmosphere virtually forever.

In This Article

In this article, we will focus in on wood as a building material, and also highlight some new trends in wooden structural design. A wooden structure may seem old fashioned, but we’ll show you that there is still a lot to discover about this popular building material.

We will show you how wooden construction can blend functionality and design criteria to create some of the most revolutionary buildings out there today. We will start by highlighting why wood is so sustainable and renewable, and then jump into some new trends in wood structure creation.

Wood Is Sustainable And Renewable

Wood has always been touted for its environmental benefits. Of course, at its most basic level it is an all-natural material. No chemicals or hazardous manufacturing processes are involved. Additionally, so long as the harvesting does not exceed the replenishment, wood is a sustainable resource. However, as with anything, there is a balance to be had, and we need to ensure that forestation does not exceed what can be regrown.

There is some even more encouraging information that can be gathered from studies which examines the renewable nature of wood.

A study by Architecture And Design and published in the Journal of Sustainable Forestry finds that the world’s forests contain more than 400 billion cubic yards of wood, but relatively little of that is turned into wooden building materials. Globally, there is a virtually inexhaustible supply of wood.

The world has come to rely on concrete, steel, aluminum and brick building materials, but the study finds that 16% of all the fossil fuel consumed every year is used to turn those raw materials into construction products. Using wood and specially engineered wood products instead would drastically reduce global carbon dioxide emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Managed properly, this could be done without loss of biodiversity or carbon storage capacity.

Architect Michael Green of Vancouver says “The Earth grows our food. The earth can grow our homes. It’s an ethical change that we have to go through.” Australian architect Alex de Rijke adds, “The 18th century was about brick, the 19th about steel, the 20th about concrete, and the 21st century is about wood.”

New Trends In Wood Building

Next up, we’ll be looking at some new and exciting trends in wood design and construction. Wood, like any area of carpentry, is constantly evolving, and new options are becoming available. From sustainable building practices, to new ways to use wood, to new ways to think of wood as a raw material, there are many new and exciting trends.

This section will take focus on some of these trends, and hopefully you will pick up some new inspirations yourself. We will focus on the techniques, as well as the architects behind them. This goes to show that even a building material as ancient as wood has new things to teach us.

New Wood Construction Products