For numerous reasons wood is making a come-back as building material of choice. Led by the famous award winning ‘Forte’ – the tallest apartment building made of cross laminated timber in the Southern Hemisphere, more and more architects are using timber in a major way. Michael Green and his firm in Canada developed North Americas tallest timber building with a height of 27.5metre, the new home of the Wood Innovation and Design Centre.
In Australia, Peter Maddison, award winning architect and presenter of Grand Design Australia, says in a commercial by ‘Wood Naturally Better’ that “wood stores carbon and carbon is better locked away in timber than free in the atmosphere where it contributes to climate change”. In fact, half the dry weight of timber is carbon.
Some other environmental aspects also need mentioning, e.g. it takes 5 times more energy to produce aluminium than timber and timber has 2000 times the resistance to heat transfer (U-value) than aluminium. The synthetic materials industry rely on oils and natural gas for 98% of their raw materials and these resources are not renewable.
Wood is becoming more popular in healthcare facilities as well with a focus on the psychological well-being of patients. The draw of humans towards natural environments like forests, parks and garden is called ‘biophilia’ and encompasses a sense of relaxation and reduction in stress reactivity in the nervous system. To maximise benefits, architects in Canada now use natural light, outlook to nature and the use of wood as natural building material in their designs. Humans respond positively to wood as it is visually warm and contributes to a positive, relaxed atmosphere. In addition to emotional benefits, wood contributes to humidity control, controls air-borne contaminants and emits very few, if any, harmful vapours.
Another aspect of timber is the bushfire issue: some select timbers only char on the surface and thus create a protective barrier for the rest of the timber while aluminium melts at a much lower temperature and steel can bend. Paarhammer timber windows are the only windows and doors tested and approved to BAL-FZ.
At the end of its useful life, wood is totally biodegradable and accounts only for 7% of the volume of all landfills. Totally non-biodegradable plastics account for 25-30% of landfill space. Good window and door manufacturers can now provide customers with certified origins of plantation timbers used. Now you can be trendy and do your bit for the environment too by choosing beautiful and long lasting windows and doors made of timber.
UK architect Alex De Rijke says “If the 19th century was the century of steel and the 20th century was the century of concrete, then the 21st century is about engineered timbers.”
For a look at very inspirational timber builings please follow this link to the FREE Australian Timber Design Awards 2013 book: https://asp-au.secure-zone.net/v2/index.jsp?id=15/22/3659&lng=en#!