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Designing the future with sustainable timber

Italy earthquake reconstruction 2017Across the world, the architecture community is embracing solid and engineered wood to deliver high profile, award winning projects and everyday designs - from houses, schools and hotels to restaurants, theatres, supermarkets and swimming pools.

Under the theme Designing the Future with Sustainable Timber, we have brought together a range of stakeholders to promote the use of wood in construction in general and certified wood in particular.

So why build with wood?

Wood is great for the planet. Wood is THE renewable building material. Compared to concrete, steel, cement and glass, wood requires less energy in production and rather than emitting carbon, it stores it.

Wood in buildings is healthy. Wood has a positive influence on the indoor climate and therefore on the well-being and health of the people who live or work in the building. What's more, wood is an excellent heat and humidity regulator. Walls made of wood breathe; they control the humidity of the surroundings.

Wood allows creative designs. Wood is strong, flexible and attractive, and easy to work, process and finish, making it ideally suited to creative and innovative designs. Every piece of wood has its own particular characteristics, because it is unique in terms of its grain, colour and lines.

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Wood enables fast construction. A home made of wood is lighter than one made of conventional materials, so you can have smaller and simpler foundations, which means they are easier to build. Numerous elements manufactured in workshops simply need to be put together on the building site.

Importantly, an increasing number of building projects are now opting for certified timber, and both public authorities and private companies are choosing to work with wood and paper with a sustainable origin.

Find out more about the benefits of building with engineered wood…

But make sure it is certified!

PEFC UK Construction County Downs 16 LIVING 300dpi RGBWhile wood is a fantastic construction material, there is one vital consideration – is it certified?

PEFC-certified timber, whether it is solid wood or engineered word such as CLT and glulam, comes from a PEFC-certified forest – a forest managed sustainably in line with strict international requirements.

This means that forest owners manage their forest in a way that provides us with timber and other forest products, while at the same timing ensuring that the forest will be around for generations to come.

Certification matters, it not only demonstrates that wood used in construction is sourced sustainably, but that a positive choice has been made to design and build with a future for healthy forests in mind.

PEFC-certified timber and engineered wood products are readily available for construction projects from a wide range of global suppliers. Construction projects can even obtain PEFC Project Chain of Custody certification to demonstrate excellence in responsible sourcing.

Find out more about project certification…

Construction and the SDGs

SDG Wheel TransparentWhen you think about construction and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), clearly Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) comes to mind - making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Sustainable wood is the only renewable material on a large scale currently available. Used for centuries, it allows us to meet the housing needs for the growing number of urban dwellers with the lowest environmental footprint possible.

But what about Good Health and Well-being (SGD 3)? Wood in buildings is proven to have a positive impact on health, stress and blood pressure.

Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Industry Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12): the construction sector has a role to play in all of these goals, and that’s where PEFC certification can help. Designing with the Future with Sustainable Timber.

waf logo datePEFC and the World Architecture Festival

In 2019 we teamed up with the World Architecture Festival (WAF) to make sure architects that have chosen to work with this fantastic material are recognized. A choice that not only creates a stunning building, but a choice that also helps to protect our forests and our planet.

We supported the Best Use of Certified Timber Prize, rewarding project teams and architects that used certified timber in an innovative, educational or artistic manner, whilst demonstrating responsible sourcing in a completed building.

40 projects were entered into the prize, and in June, nine of these were selected for the shortlist. The winning design, International House in Sydney, Australia by the architecture firm Tzannes, was announced during the WAF Gala Dinner in Amsterdam, on 30 November 2018.

Discover the finalists:

Photos credits: PEFC Italy, Forka Photography and Micah T Jones Architect