Processing requires less energy
Choosing timber in design and construction can help tackle climate change in several ways. One of the most important is that wood stores carbon. Growing trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, emit oxygen and store carbon. Carbon remains locked in the wood for the life of the piece of timber until it rots, decays or is burnt. Some wood constructions can even last up to hundreds of years. Mature trees absorb less carbon than younger, faster growing trees, therefore it could be beneficial in the battle on climate change to cut the older trees, use them in construction and plant new carbon storing trees in their place.
The production of wood products uses less energy (usually sourced from finite fossil fuels) compared with other building materials that can be used in its place. Timber can create buildings with low embodied energy. Embodied energy describes the energy consumed in processing materials for building construction. It is easy accessible and it is natural, durable and recyclable. Its versatility and light weight means it can be designed to be easy to disassemble, recover, reuse and/or recycle.
It is increasingly common practice to recycle and reuse what would otherwise be timber residue into new products and applications. The versatility of timber is no better demonstrated than in the variety of second life products it makes its way into. Wood waste can be directly recycled by turning it into chipboards or fibreboards. Or indirectly recycled to animal bedding or compost. These are just several modest examples of wood recycle possibilities.