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If you haven’t heard anything lately about Climate Change then you have been living under a rock! One week ago today, adults and school children across the world joined protests against climate change – the world’s largest group protest EVER as they call on businesses and politicians to cut emissions.

The protests were part of a snowballing movement sparked by teenage activist Greta Thunberg’s school strikes outside the Swedish parliament –  “We are living at the beginning of mass extinction – our climate is breaking down!” Over 1 million people joined the protests and set the standard for change from our government.

The message from the protests is that ‘We can still fix this – for the future of the earth, for our future and that of our children and their children! Globally, we need to stop burning fossil fuels to survive – but this is not enough’. 

British Political and Environmental Journalist George Monbiot says “Many solutions are talked about but there is one MAGIC solution, you may have heard about it – it’s called a tree!  A tree is a magic machine that sucks carbon out of the air, costs very little and builds itself! A tree (of all types, shapes and sizes) is the best example of a natural climate solution, it takes carbon out of the air and locks it away!” 

Climate Change Timber Frame Solution

Can buildings with wood help the impact and affect climate change?

Recently there have been calls for tree planting on a colossal scale to capture CO2 and curb climate change. However, whilst young trees are efficient and effective carbon sinks, the same is not so true for mature trees. The Earth maintains a balanced carbon cycle – trees grow using carbon, they fall and die, and release that carbon again. That was knocked out of balance when humans discovered coal and oil and began burning them, releasing huge amounts of CO2 into our atmosphere far faster than the current cycle can deal with – which BOOM equals to our Climate Change disaster!

How we are taking care of the cycle?

Many pine trees in managed forests, such as the European spruce, take roughly 80 years to reach maturity, being the main absorbers of carbon during those years of growth – once they reach maturity, they shed roughly as much carbon through the decomposition of needles and fallen branches as they absorb.

Therefore, the best form of carbon sequestration is to chop down trees: to restore sustainable, managed forests, and use the resulting wood as a building material. The timber used by QTF Timber Frame is sourced from managed Scandinavian forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the FSC plant two to three trees for every tree chopped down – meaning the more demand there is for wood, the greater the growth in both forest cover and CO2-hungry young trees.

“ The best thing is that Nature can regenerate and we can help ecosystems bounce back (George Monbiot)”

Could a return of Timber Frame as our primary building material make a difference?

Yes! It absolutely could! Not only does wood remove more CO2 from the atmosphere than it adds through manufacture, but by replacing carbon-intensive materials such as concrete or steel it doubles its contribution to lowering CO2. 

In simple terms:

The original tree grows + reduces CO2 = helps the planet survive longer

The original tree + turned into timber frame =  captures double CO2 emissions than it takes to manufacture. 

(It’s pretty incredible when you think about it – by choosing a Timber Frame you are helping (even blooming changing) the future of the planet for your children, there children & there children..)  

What’s more…  

By building more Timber Frame Structures we can DOUBLE our efforts towards removing CO2 emissions and make a real impact on Climate Change.

Timber Frame structures would allow us to draw carbon from the air and store it in our homes and offices – leading some to believe that wooden buildings are the future of architecture. Some people aren’t just there yet – but perhaps they need to wake up! Our dependency on concrete, brick & steel to building everything from homes to sports stadiums comes at a severe environmental cost. Concrete is responsible for 8% of the world’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions (ThinkTank, BBC, 2019). Second, only to water, it is the most widely used substance on Earth, accounting for around 85% of all mining. 

Picture this..

As a rule of thumb, a cubic metre of wood contains around a tonne of CO2 – which is similar to 350 litres of petrol –  ONE .CUBIC. METRE. – yeah! Next time you’re taking a walkabout your local forest just think how much petrol emissions is in that one tree – and there still isn’t enough trees in the world to tackle the problem we really face. 

The real impact of building with Timber Frame on Climate Change is this..

Timber Frame Structures capture over one million tonnes of CO2 emissions EVERY. SINGLE. YEAR!

A recent advisory report to the UK government, started between 15% and 28% of new homes built in the UK annually use timber frame construction, capturing over one million tonnes of CO2  a year as a result –  Increasing the use of timber in construction could triple that amount, the report concluded. Savings of similar magnitude may also be possible in the commercial and industrial sectors by utilising Timber Frame.

Not only will we make an impact on Climate Change but the increasing use of Timber Frame in construction means the development of new skills and Jobs in our current uncertain economy – foresty jobs, construction jobs,  joinery, office admin, site managers, the list goes on! 

Timber Frame structures are quicker and easier to build, therefore reducing labour costs, transport fuel and on-site energy use. Timber Frame homes last just as long as concrete block homes and have additional benefits to homes owners who save £1000s on running & heatings costs every year! (Read many more benefits to Timber Frame Construction)

Everything counts! 

We appreciate the massive use of concrete and the massive importance of concrete to infrastructure and society. It is an exceptionally good material because of its functionality and its robustness – but where necessary. Self Build Houses, Property Developments, Commercial premises, Schools – they can all be built using Timber Frame Structures – Structures built from wood – wood that will make an impact to the future of the planet, our children’s futures and overall existence. Everybody should be building with wood.

What you do counts!

In return to our original question: could we realistically return to wood as our primary building material? It’s not only realistic, it’s vital.  It has to happen. In architecture you always go back to the sketch: the sketch is climate change.