Timber as a choice for sustainable building is increasingly being billed as the answer to building environmentally-conscious green cities. Lightweight and sustainable, and when properly treated, timber can even be made to be more fire resistant than steel. The benefits of building with timber are countless.

With an overwhelming global shift towards environmentally-focused sustainable designs, more and more architects are turning towards timber as a building material for its sustainability, aesthetic qualities, ease of transport and speed of construction. In recent years, there has been an unprecedented surge of timber towers proposed and constructed, from Norway to New Zealand. Timber as a preferred sustainable building material choice has gripped the architecture world – both for interior design schemes and for construction of the buildings themselves.

Over the past five years, many timber focused projects are setting new records. There’s the 18-storey T3 project in Minneapolis, made from pine felled by mountain pine beetles. Another is the 60m HoHo tower, a sleek spruce design currently under construction in Vienna. Then there is the lofty 133m Trätoppen (translating literally as “the treetop” in Swedish), designed by Anders Berensson Architects to replace an old car park in the city centre of Stockholm, Sweden. Australia also boast its own timber skyscraper in the new Barangaroo precinct in Sydney. Australia’s first timber office building and also the world’s tallest.

Using sustainable timber grown specifically for construction purposes has the potential to significantly reduce the energy consumption and environmental impact required for traditional builds. Wood is, on average, four times lighter than concrete – meaning transporting the materials requires less energy. Furthermore, timber buildings are increasingly being assembled in a factory, and then craned into position and fixed together on site like an Ikea-style skyscraper that can ‘self-assemble’. As a result, the time and financial cost benefits of pre-fabricated construction are tremendous.

The use of timber for interiors as a sustainable, green choice in the design of spaces is also on the rise. Studies have revealed that the inclusion of real timber such as for flooring, cladding or cabinetry, particularly within workspaces, is beneficial to both mental and physical health. More so, that the effect cannot be replicated using imitation products such as timber-look vinyl or tiles.

Prolonging the life of timber through the use in flooring and other products after the tree has been felled, stores CO2 and prevents it being released into the atmosphere. In addition to this, engineered timber makes further use of this finite resource by enabling many more planks to be produced per tree. Products with green certification such as GECA, PEFC™ and FSC® certified, ensure that the source of the timber is reputable and responsible with regards to caring for environment.

With an increasing global focus on naturally produced materials, conservation of resources and conscientious building for the future, welcome back to the age of wood.

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