News – Timber-frame homes are greener

The recent renewed interest in buying property made from wood shows we are finding eco alternatives

Lorna Blackwood
Until the 18th century, when they fell out of fashion and were gradually replaced by brick and stone, most buildings in England were timber-framed. Today there is renewed interest in timber frames, not least because wood is a very “green” building material. Wood has the lowest energy consumption and the lowest carbon dioxide emission of any commonly used building material. It is an organic, non-toxic and naturally renewable material. New-build timber-framed houses are usually of green oak, but reclaimed oak frames can be used.

Timber suppliers are signed up to reforestation agreements. This means that they ensure that more trees are planted than are felled. New trees produce more oxygen than old trees and also absorb more carbon dioxide.

Wood is a carbon-neutral material. The process from tree to beam uses only a small amount of fossil fuel, even allowing for transport. A typical 100 sq m detached timber-framed house – conforming to the latest building regulations – produces about four tonnes of carbon dioxide less than the equivalent masonry house. This is equivalent to the amount of carbon dioxide produced by driving a car 14,000 miles. If all new houses built in the UK since 1945 had been timber- framed, more than 300 million tonnes of carbon dioxide would not have been produced.

Wood has good natural insulation, which means that a timber home will heat up more quickly than one of concrete.

There is no waste when building with wood. The parts of the logs that are not used for timber are used to make paper, chipboard, heat and energy.