Primary - Mitigating alternative low carbon building materials: 2011 - Wood as an alternative building material saves CO2.

Using wood as a building material is climate-friendly and sustainable. Wood, a natural, renewable and sustainable resource, contains carbon that remains for the duration of the material's lifetime, i.e. until it decays or is burnt. The longer a wood product is used, the longer the time its carbon is stored. Thus a global growth in the use of industrial wood products would significantly increase the amount of carbon stored.

Wood has the lowest energy consumption and carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions of any commonly used building material. And, as well as being climate friendly and sustainable, wood is also a good insulator, so its use can reduce our energy needs too. Designing buildings to use more wood in place of concrete, plastic and steel could result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions.

Choosing sustainably produced wood and paper products, instead of products whose manufacture is associated with higher levels of CO2 emissions, can significantly reduce carbon dioxide emissions. And the energy stored in wood residues and end-of-life wood products can be recovered by using them as a fossil fuel substitute.

To summarise, wood is an excellent alternative building material:

  • Replacing one cubic metre of concrete or red brick with the same volume of timber can save around one tonne of carbon dioxide.
  • On average building a house in timber instead of brick reduces carbon emissions by ten tonnes.
Various case studies can be viewed on the 'Wood for good' website: The link below reveals a specific Thamesmead example:
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