Is Wood Framing Sustainable?

Is Wood Framing Sustainable?

As technology rapidly advances, wood has quickly been replaced by newer building methods such as steel and concrete in many commercial constructions. However, compared to other materials, the manufacturing, transportation, and resource extraction processes have consumed lesser energy than their manufactured counterparts. Moreover, it is one of the only building materials that are naturally renewable, as it can be grown to replace any wood that has been cut down.

According to a recent study by the Consortium for Research on Renewable Materials (CORRIM), the sustainability of wood framing has been proven and it is a more environmentally-friendly resource than concrete and steel. However, both were estimated to produce up to 31% more carbon emissions than wood. Another research suggests that concrete and steel as common construction materials have higher embodied carbon impact, and they are each responsible for an estimate of 4% carbon emissions.

Wood as a Renewable Resource

Many industry experts have suggested that wood framing can be a sustainable and environmentally-friendly construction approach because the number of trees planted can equally replace the ones being cut down. Trees are incredibly important in combatting climate change, as they absorb and store carbon from the atmosphere in their sinks and produce oxygen through photosynthesis. They also help cool our warming planet down through another process named evapotranspiration. Water evaporates from the land surface and transpires from the vegetation surfaces (leaves) to cool the surroundings.

As trees require carbon to grow, they have a large storage capacity for CO2, which usually makes up approximately 50% of the wood biomass, which remains in the material after being harvested. Scientists estimate one-square meter of wood can absorb 0.9 tons of CO2 from the atmosphere, proving to be a better and more sustainable option for building materials in the long term as compared to other materials.

The Durability and Safety of Wood

In general, wood is lightweight, easy to work with, and has less thermal bridging properties than other materials like concrete. When wood is well-protected and guarded against moisture, which can induce splitting, warping, chipping, and shrinking, it has a long lifespan and can remain structurally sound. In addition, it should be well-maintained to prevent pests from woodworms, sawflies, and carpenter ants from expediting the natural decay of the wood. For the longest time, it has been a mainstay for many construction organizations and companies as 90% of houses in 2019 were wood-framed.

Contrary to popular beliefs, the combustibility of the framing material does not necessarily equate to fire safety as many studies have shown no differences in the risk of fire in wood compared to other construction materials. Instead, it is more reliant on the flammability of the materials used in interior furniture and the fire-safety measures such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors, and the level of fire safety education that occupants possess. Various experiments have also shown that wood structures will remain stable despite the length of a fire. Furthermore, fire-retardant measures such as drywall and insulation protectors can be used to safeguard against heat, and wood frames can be customized to incorporate higher levels of fire resistance, depending on the type of wood used.

Sustainable Wood Harvesting Practices

With new and improved building practices in place, many construction companies have continued to innovate and increase the use of sustainable and legally harvested woods in their procedures. More engineered structural materials are also increasingly incorporated as they help reduce waste that usually ends up in landfills. In addition, many countries in the EU have cracked down on their forest management laws and banned the illegal use of domestically harvested or imported wood, mandating that wood should be ethically and legally sourced. Other countries’ adoption of such practices has also been highly encouraged by many industry experts.

Quality Construction with Ethical Practices

Our professional team of building experts at US Framing have the right knowledge and experience in assisting you in planning all the details you require in your project timeline – from budgeting to pre-planning to problem-solving to the construction phase. We are here for you at every step of the way. We are familiar with the state’s building standards and codes and aim to create a safe working environment for you and your co-workers. Our team puts in our best foot forward to ensure your project is completed timely so that you can achieve your goals and aims.

For more information about the types of framing services we offer, please do not hesitate to contact us today!