Superman, the Man of Steel… wouldn’t sound quite as convincing if we called him the Man of Timber would it? Tree Man, Splinter Man, Woody… none of them quite measure up.
Timber construction has long fascinated me – the natural materials, the grain, the softness, the acoustics, the beauty… and it excites me that timber construction is now starting to build its brand as one of our best weapons in tackling global warming.Of all mainstream building materials, timber has by far the best carbon properties – each kg of timber locks away around 0.5kg of CO2… this figure of course will vary depending on softwood/hardwood, species etc, but even as an indicative figure it’s pretty amazing.
So here’s my simple view on how timber construction can solve some big issues;
- plant tree (or find one prepared earlier);
- harvest tree, dress timber, dry it;
- make building from timber (locks the carbon away);
- plant new tree.
There are some very cool timber buildings popping up all around the world now. On the free market, commercially competitive, fire resistant, tall, good looking, job-creating and profitable [tempting to harvest a joke or two out of that but I won’t]. And when we combine timber with the booming modular or unitised building fabrication industry I think we’re going to see some positive changes very soon.
I’m not necessarily endorsing this project, but it has to be said that when this developer goes timber, commercially, and half the product is already sold [in a quiet market] there must be something going on. Check out the time lapse for Lend Lease’s Forte apartment building in Melbourne… note how fast it goes up [and gets to market] compared to the one behind it. All timber – floors, walls, roof, fire stairs.
It’s clear to me that Timber’s stocks are rising, and there will be some serious innovation in this arena. And when the ‘durability objection’ comes up – show them the story about the Horyu-Ji Temple. It’s 1,400 years old.
[Note: before you are tempted to post a comment about me bagging other materials; I didn’t. I wrote that stuff then deleted it before posting. I just think wood has the best properties for a carbon constrained future.]