Has Timber Become The New Concrete 

In a world where going green is becoming a strict priority, the construction industry is also looking at ways that they can improve their environmental efficiencies in line with new regulations and help reduce their overall carbon footprint. 

One of the common ways that construction industries are starting to improve their sustainability and reduce their greenhouse gas emissions is by using wood such as birch plywood as a core material as opposed to less sustainable materials like concrete. In this article, we’re discussing the reasons why the industry is starting to make this shift and the pros and cons of timber being the new concrete. 

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Why Is The Industry Moving To Timber? 

The construction industry is one of the largest contributors to greenhouse gases, with many of the materials being used in the production process being unsustainable and harmful to the environment. This includes the likes of concrete and steel. By 2050, the UN believes that the majority of populations around the globe are going to be living in cities. This will drive further need for infrastructure to be built and a big upturn for the construction industry. This, in turn, will have a significant impact on emissions and cause further environmental problems if new sustainable methods are not introduced quickly. 

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The industry has already started to make moves towards using timber as a primary material. 

In Norway, it has been proven that multistory buildings can be created using the material with the country housing the world’s tallest mass timber building, which sits at 18 stories and 280 feet. In Helsinki, Finland, they are making moves towards creating an entire city out of timber. 

What Are The Pros Of Using Timber? 

The biggest pros surrounding the use of timber as opposed to steel or concrete is that it is a far more sustainable material. This means construction companies and the industry as a whole can reduce their greenhouse gas emissions substantially. 

Wood actually helps to capture and store carbon, which means that mass timber formations can help with carbon removal in the atmosphere due to its photosynthesis.

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What Are The Cons Of Using Timber?

One of the biggest cons of using timber is that it can quickly spiral into an unsustainable method if the number of trees being cut down for the material is not properly managed. Trees will need to be planted to replace any that are cut down, and proper regulations will need to be put in place to ensure that the impact of deforestation and habitat loss on ecosystems are minimised. 

The other concern with timber is the potential fire safety risks that come with the material. However, with proper training and different coatings that can be applied to the timber to help with fire resistance, this is likely to become less of a concern as the industry continues to adopt the material. 

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What Does The Future Of The Construction Industry Look Like? 

The future outlook of the construction industry is, without a doubt, going to shift towards more sustainable processes and materials in order to keep up with government expectations of reaching Net Zero. Emissions from the building sector accounted for 38% of total greenhouse gas emissions globally, reaching its peak in 2019. 

While timber may not be an option forever, efforts are already being put into making other materials like concrete and steel more sustainable. This includes the use of carbon sequestration and recycled carbon dioxide in concrete and the use of green hydrogen to help lower steel’s carbon footprint.

As we can see, timber is certainly becoming a more popular material for the building industry. While it may not overtake concrete just yet, with more of a lean towards a sustainable future despite ever-growing demand for new infrastructure, timber could very quickly become a leading material for the sector. 


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