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Timber - the most sustainable material of them all

Thankfully, we’re gradually winning the war against misconceptions about the oldest and best building and fenestration material of them all – wood.

There’s a growing awareness that timber isn’t the expensive, maintenance-heavy material many people think it is – and that its poor reputation in some quarters has nothing to do with timber itself, but stems instead from the cheap and shoddy mass-produced wood windows of the mid-twentieth century.

But one of the most stubborn timber myths concerns sustainability. Many people still incorrectly assume timber windows and doors are bad for the environment. But that’s not true. Timber, when it’s ethically-sourced, is the greenest fenestration material of them all.

Many people associate timber with deforestation – people irresponsibly cutting down sections of forest, and never replacing the trees that are removed. But ethical timber is a different phenomenon entirely.

Sustainable timber products come from well-managed forests, where new trees are planted to replace those that are harvested. Planting new trees means that even more CO2 is stored, making sustainable timber products better than carbon neutral.

Academics from Heriot Watt University, renowned worldwide for its construction expertise, conducted a comprehensive Life-Cycle Analysis on a variety of timber windows and compared them with uPVC alternatives.

They found that using timber to make windows can make ‘a significant contribution to low-carbon building’. This is for two key reasons. The first is that timber itself is a low-carbon material, and the second is that timber offers low thermal transmittance, meaning timber windows offer excellent thermal efficiency and allow homeowners to use less energy to heat their homes.

Wood was also found to have ‘significantly lower’ environmental impact than uPVC alternatives. In fact, all the wood windows tested as part of the study were concluded to have negative global warming potential, and be carbon negative over their entire 60-year average lifespan – saving 160kg of carbon that would be produced by the average uPVC window in that time.

These outstanding ecological credentials are reflected in the fact that the Building Research Establishment’s Green Guide rates wood windows as A or A+ for their minimal environmental impact.

In fact, timber is increasingly growing in popularity as a way of meeting increasingly strict government regulations aimed at reducing the construction sector’s environmental impact. With timber, you don’t just ensure you meet today’s legislative requirements, you future-proof your project against measures that could be introduced in future, and increase your chances of getting through the planning process.

At West Port, our timber is rated A+ for sustainability. We only use wood from Forest Stewardship Council and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification-approved sources. If you’re interested in how we can help you, call us today.

 

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