Bowens - The Builders Choice

In last month’s Builders Bulletin, Jeff Harvey wrote a great article on the benefits of using wood but also making the point that 65% of Australia’s forests are in national parks or reserves where commercial logging is NOT permitted. Also, the timber industry only harvests 1 percent of total forest canopy, and where they have been harvested, trees are replanted for further generations to use. Old growth forests, by law, cannot be logged – all hardwood logging is from regrowth forests.

With this background, the words of Nick Steel, CEO, Tasmanian Forest Products Association, resonate with me (and I’m sure Jeff). I quote:

“Forestry and the wood it produces, has a role to play in addressing climate change, but attitudes need to change. It is an ongoing obstruction – the rigid divide between science and emotion that if not resolved will leave us scratching our heads and unable to move forward on climate change.

Following decades of campaigning, the misinformation around (Tasmanian) forestry has resulted in less investment and less trees in the ground than there could and should be.

The world wants wood. This is undisputed and the demand is growing by the day as outcomes from the COP26 in Glasgow are implemented by governments and industries around the world. Any business that is environmentally conscious is currently looking at how they can replace metals, concrete and plastic from their products, their packaging and their supply chains to lower their environmental footprint.

And there is one product the world is talking about – wood.”

So, the ‘rage’ that Jeff Harvey, myself and many others have is that timber really is the best product on earth and is very much part of the solution to climate change. This fact is ignored by many in the community who don’t seem to want to resolve the ‘rigid divide between science and emotion’ and thus move ahead on climate change.

I now want to bring into the debate Nikita Gentle who represents an organisation called Carbon Warrior. Carbon Warrior is a project by the Frame & Truss Manufacturers Association of Australia aiming to create a greener future by minimising the negative impact the building and construction sector has on climate change.

Some time back Nikita wrote an article titled ‘Where does your frame come from?’ Nikita certainly helps continue the ‘rage’ and provides arguments in support of timber as the best building product, and the recycling of trees as the obvious way forward. I quote:

“When choosing building materials it is vital to think about where they come from.

You can’t replant the ore and rocks extracted from the planet for steel and concrete but with certified wood you can guarantee a tree is replanted.

Certified forest plantations plant roughly two to three trees for every tree harvested. Unfortunately, with iron ore, which is used to create steel, you cannot refill the hole in the ground that mining has left.

As the world attempts to slow down the effects of climate change and reach the targets set out in the Paris Agreement, it is important now more than ever to think about the sustainability of a building and its materials.

Concrete and steel each account for around 8 percent of global G HG emissions, which is more than what any individual country produces except for the US and China. On average 2 tonnes of CO2 are emitted to manufacture one tonne of steel, whereas wood removes more CO2 from the atmosphere that it emits during manufacture.

In fact, 1 cubic metre of wood contains just shy of 1 tonne of CO2 (more or less depending on the species of tree). This is because trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere as they grow and store it as carbon.

So essentially, wood’s ability to sequester carbon helps provide a solution to embodied carbon within the built environment. It should be stated that wood cannot solve all the problems in the built environment and materials like steel and concrete do have a place in construction and certain types of buildings, but if we want to reach the targets set in the Paris Agreement, where we can, we must use timber.

The timber industry has a great story to tell just like the one above as it is truly a sustainable and renewable industry. It is time for everyone to recognise and be proud of the role they are playing in creating a greener future.

It is as easy as letting your customers know that by choosing timber frames and trusses, their house grows back in under 150 seconds! How? Well with certified wood, more trees are planted than harvested, and with more than one million hectares of Australia softwood farms, approximately 20m3 of timber is grown per minute. Meaning the average house grows back in less than 150 seconds! It’s simple – wood grows back, steel and concrete don’t.

Another message emphasising the urgency of wood use in the built environment is that billons of people worldwide will need to be housed in the next 20 years. If all those houses are built with concrete and steel, the climate is stuffed. It’s as simple as that. Building with wood is a necessity if the world wants to successfully tackle climate change.

When discussing climate change, ask people where their house frame comes from? Is it renewable? Is it sustainable? Is it made from a low embodied energy material? Well, if their frame is made from certified or recycled wood, then it is all these things.

Everyone has a duty in the fight against climate change, and it is simple as choosing the right materials. Let people know that by choosing certified wood they are storing carbon in their buildings, helping put a stop to deforestation and creating a greener future.

These are easy and simple messages that anyone who cares for the planet and our future will understand. So, let’s share them and all be proud Carbon Warriors! For further information, visit the Carbon Warrior website (carbonwarrior.com.au) check out our Instagram (@carbonwarrior).”

My final word – communities must work together giving as well as taking. The timber industry can’t expect to have ‘carte blanche’ accessibility to our forests just as governments should not have the right to ban logging. The forestry community needs to come together to both conserve and nurture, as well as provide this ‘wood’ solution to climate change.

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