Reducing our carbon footprint seems to be at the top of everyone’s agendas. From The Guardian reporting on how to eat with a low carbon footprint, to fast food chain McDonald’s setting greenhouse gas targets, and phasing out plastic straws from UK restaurants, everyone is making greener choices.
Did you know that the choice of material you use in your home or workplace can have a real impact on its overall carbon footprint? In fact, there is a growing trend in architects and builders choosing timber as their material of choice, due to its positive environmental impact and ease of construction.
Want to know why wood is the environmentally friendly material of choice, for both home and business owners? Retailer, A Wood Idea has provided these insights.
Wood is known to be one of the most naturally renewable energy sources, which means it will have less of an impact on the environment than other materials. According to the British Woodworking Federation, over 90% of wood we use is from forests in Europe, which are growing by 661,000 hectares each year. This shows that it’s a very readily-available resource, that’s not going to run out anytime soon.
A wide variety of factors impact how long a wooden product lasts, including the type of wood, the location of the product (interior or exterior environments) and the treatment that has been applied to it. Generally, wood may be lightweight, but it is also a strong and durable product. Hardwood is the most durable, and treated correctly can last longer than a lifetime – some hardwood doors can last over 100 years.
The longer a wood product lasts, the less energy is used on the production of new products, which in turn makes it better for the environment.
The cellular makeup of wood means that it naturally retains heat more effectively than other materials – in fact, it holds heat seven times more effectively than ceramic tiles. Air chambers within the wood itself absorb heat, holding it for longer. Introducing wood into your premises means it will be naturally warmer. A naturally warmer building will require less energy to heat it, which is kinder to the environment.
Protected and maintained wood will last for 100 years, which gives you an opportunity to refinish and adapt a piece several times throughout its lifetime. Wooden furniture is very easily upcycled, painted and re-treated, which transforms it into a completely different piece.
As wood supplies grow, trees absorb carbon dioxide out of the atmosphere, which lowers the overall carbon footprint of the material. Known as a ‘carbon sink’, one cubic metre of new wood removes just less than a tonne of CO2 in the atmosphere. Trees only stop absorbing carbon when they reach maturity, which is usually when they are harvested.
Wood is a ‘carbon store’, which means that once it has absorbed the carbon, it is stored there and remains out of the atmosphere.
There is very little waste when wooden products are made, whether it’s floorboards, furniture, doors, or something else entirely. Any residual chippings can be burned as an energy source, or used as sawdust during manufacture.
The limited amount of waste produced by the manufacture of wooden products is 100% biodegradable. This means that the material will eventually decompose, disintegrate and break down back into the earth. This means there will be no residual landfill left in the earth’s atmosphere, which is better for the environment.
Wood can provide benefits to both mental, and physical health. By increasing the amount of wooden materials in your home or workplace, you reduce the amount of manmade substances, and potentially harmful chemicals, in the environment. It has also been claimed that the introduction of wood to interiors has a stress-reducing effect, according to a report by Timber and Design Online.