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Why Wood Is One of the Most Eco-Friendly Materials

Log trunks pile, the logging timber forest wood industry.

Climate change and responsible building is an important topic right now, especially when you’re considering a green construction project. An increasing consideration is whether your choice in materials hurt the environment and if they are sustainable or renewable. All of these questions are important and, when it comes to wood, you can rest assured that using it doesn’t negatively affect the climate. In fact, wood remains one of the most bountiful and versatile building materials, providing many benefits that are not found in other building materials such as steel, plastic or concrete.

North American Forests are Increasing and Expanding

There is a misconception that lumber companies contribute to deforestation — and it is a serious problem in some areas that cut down trees so the land can be used for alternative purposes. But responsible growers and lumber businesses are in agreement with outdoor adventurers: forests are beautiful assets. In the U.S., forests are considered stable and growing, with the main threat to them being wildfires. This is because lumberers who want to cultivate their businesses (and resources!) know that once a tree is cut down, it leaves space for another to be planted. Additionally, the rotating trunk of trees growing is an incentive for smaller landowners to keep harvesting their trees instead of making a one-time profit from developers.

There Is No Replacement for Wood

In recent years, there’s been a fascination with bamboo and the presumption that it’s impact on the environment and construction is far above that of wood. Don’t misunderstand — bamboo is a useful crop, especially on poor quality land, that grows and regenerates quickly. However, bamboo’s growth potential makes it an unwieldy, needy crop to tend. Similarly, given the faster rotation of bamboo, it could be argued that it has a bigger impact on the environment than wood. Quicker turnover means more synthetic fertilizers and pesticides used and released into the air. Trees, on the other hand, have a longer life cycle and their continued use in construction have led to a reduction in CO2 emissions, when chosen over less efficient materials. Not to mention, the variety of trees that can be turned into construction materials is vast, meaning builders are not relying (and depleting) a single species.

Mass Timber is Massively Popular

In recent years, mass timber or structural timber has been adopted by more U.S.-based builders after it was added to the International Building Code And gaining acclaim both for its architectural qualities and for its potential to help decarbonize the building sector. What is mass timber? On the most basic note, it’s like matured-Lincoln logs. The process involved putting pieces of soft wood, like pine or spruce, together to form larger pieces. Mass timber can also become laminated lumber, giving builders new options outside of the standard two-by-four when planning a project. Builders are subject to their localities’ building codes, so developing new wood-based options allows for more than just creative construction. They can also make better use of renewable materials rather than look to man-made options that, while suitable for very specific structures, are developing in factories more damaging to the atmosphere than the cutting and processing of lumber.

So even for the greatest friends of forests, wood remains one of the most eco-friendly, durable, and reliable materials to build with — especially when choosing lumber from a company whose eyes are on the environment. If you’re ready to start your next project, our team is standing by to help you decide on which responsibly-sourced materials are best for your specific needs.