Can Using More Wood Reduce Your Environmental Footprint?

Structure magazine recently posed the question, “Can using more wood reduce your environmental footprint?” The magazine explores why it’s important for designers to focus on which materials they will use, as well as the life cycle of those materials.

For example: “Some people might think that recycled products are automatically preferable even though they may require a large amount of energy to produce and transport, and the alternate choice may be wood from a local, sustainably managed forest. It isn’t that you shouldn’t use recycled materials, just that other considerations may weigh more heavily on the product’s life cycle environmental impacts, depending on the situation. It’s important for designers to be able to assess the impacts of their choices.”

Olympic Oval. Courtesy of FII. Via structuremag.org.

Also important to keep in mind: Wood is made using the sun’s energy, so “greenhouse gas emissions are also avoided when wood is used in place of materials which require large amounts of fossil fuels to manufacture,” writes Structure magazine’s Roxane Ward.

Here’s a good case-in-point example. “The 2010 Olympic Speed Skating Oval in British Columbia, which has a six-acre free-spanning wood roof, includes almost 135,000 cubic feet of wood, stores an estimated 2,940 metric tons of CO2 and is responsible for avoided emissions of another 8,820 metric tons of CO2.”

Want more examples of how wood can reduce your environmental footprint? Looking to learn more about using sustainability as a design objective? Check out the article in Structure here.

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