How wooden buildings help tackle climate change

Most new commercial buildings are constructed mainly from concrete, but a few construction projects are using wood because of its environmental credentials.

It is estimated that concrete is responsible for 4% to 8% of the world’s CO2 emissions. Sand used in concrete is being depleted at a rapid pace, and the substance needs large amounts of steel to reinforce it.

Many buildings have wood features such as solid wood flooring, but architect Andrew Waugh argues that there is an environmental case for constructing entire buildings mainly from wood. Buildings made from wood are 20% lighter than concrete ones and require fewer foundations. Wood from sustainably managed forests store CO2, not emit it. By replacing steel and concrete with wood, the amount of CO2 emitted from building materials is significantly reduced.

Between 15% and 28% of homes built in the UK each year use timber frame construction and capture over one million tonnes of CO2. Increasing the number of wooden buildings constructed could double or triple this amount. There have also been calls for planting trees on a huge scale to capture CO2.

Homes and commercial buildings in Chester, if not made entirely from wood, can still contribute to carbon savings by installing solid wood floors. Wood floors add value to a building and will last a long time. When worn, instead of replacing the floor, it can be sanded to make it to look like new. The wood can be recycled at the end of a floor’s life.