The benefits of using sustainable timber

March 3, 2016

Using sustainable timber has a number of benefits to you as a consumer and to the planet. At Champion we take our environmental responsibilities seriously, ensuring that we can supply you with high quality sustainable timber that meets the highest standards.

Why use sustainable timber

Trees play an essential role in capturing carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. The increase in CO2 in the atmosphere is the single biggest cause of global warming, which is leading to climate change.

As trees grow, they capture CO2 from the atmosphere at a rate of 1 tonne for every m3 of growth, as well as producing 0.7 tonnes of oxygen. This CO2 is locked away into the wood and continues to be stored for the lifetime of the timber products.

This makes sustainable timber products a ‘carbon sink’ – a means of taking CO2 out of the atmosphere and reducing the impact of global warming.

The benefits of using sustainable timber

Using sustainable timber can reduce the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, but there are a range of other benefits to using responsibly-sourced timber in your projects:

  1. Wood is a fantastic insulator – wood has excellent thermal properties, with low thermal conductivity and high thermal mass. This means that buildings made from sustainable timber are also more efficient to heat and cool, reducing the carbon footprint of a building over its lifetime even further.
  2. The sustainable timber industry is beneficial to the UK economy – it’s estimated that the UK forestry and timber industry provides over 100,000 jobs in the UK, many of which are in rural areas. In 2012 the forestry and timber processing industry contributed £1.7 billion to the UK economy.
  3. It takes less energy to produce sustainable timber products than other building materials – wood building materials have low embodied energy. This means that the amount of energy used in their production and transport is lower than alternatives such as steel, concrete or brick. This reduces the overall carbon footprint of your project.
  4. The unique properties of wood allow you to be creative in design – sustainable timber has a range of properties that alternative materials are unable to replicate. This means that buildings and other structures that make us of sustainable timber can be designed in exciting ways that simply aren’t possible with other materials.
  5. Sustainable timber helps buildings to meet government regulations – the UK government is increasingly making use of legislation to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. The environmental credentials of sustainable timber can help to ensure that projects meet government requirements, future-proof planned projects against future legislation and even give projects a better chance of getting through the planning process.

What makes timber sustainable?

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.

Sustainable timber is used to produce a wide range of products – from timber decking to sheet materials, timber doors and garden sheds.

Well-managed forests also have a positive impact on biodiversity, ensuring that animals and plants are protected. This preserves the forest for future generations, as well as ensuring that it continues to provide a reliable source of sustainable timber. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification scheme sets incredibly high standards for sustainable timber, including:

  • commitments to replacing trees that are harvested, or allowing them to regenerate naturally
  • guarantees that that indigenous people’s right to use the forest is protected,
  • ensuring that local workers are employed to run the forest and provided with training, safety equipment and decent salaries.

These safeguards have led FSC to be the only sustainable timber certification scheme to receive endorsements from major environmental charities, including WWF, Greenpeace and The Woodland Trust.

Sustainable timber should be traceable throughout the entire supply chain. This ensures that the product that you buy has been sourced from a sustainably managed forest, responsibly processed and tracked all the way to the store.

How to ensure you’re buying sustainable timber

Certification schemes such as the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) make it easy for you to check that you’re buying sustainable timber. These schemes set out standards to define how forests should be managed and set strict chain of custody requirements so you can be sure that you’re buying sustainable timber that meets strict environmental standards.

At Champion we use rigorous verification systems to monitor our sustainable timber supplies. We have Environmental Chain of Custody Certification for the FSC and PEFC. We also ensure that our suppliers are independently audited for the Responsible Purchasing Policy (RPP) of the Timber Trade Federation and Forests Forever.

We source our own sustainable timber, machine it ourselves and sell it direct. This allows us to control the quality, continuity of supply and price products competitively – and importantly, guarantee that it has been sustainably sourced.

Get ideas for using sustainable timber in your build

Use of sustainable timber in construction projects is taking off, and with good reason; some of the most exciting and innovative buildings make use of sustainable timber.

You can find out more about innovations in the industry: including examples of sustainable timber in use and the range of products available – as well as getting inspiration for your own projects by attending industry events.

The Ecobuild conference, taking place between 8-10 March 2016 is a great place to learn more and get ideas. It’s an opportunity to learn more about sustainable timber, its benefits and how you can make use of it in your next project.