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Sustainable Use of Wood in Construction

Sustainable Use of Wood in Construction

Jim Coulson

ISBN: 978-1-118-53961-3

Jul 2014

216 pages


There is a great deal of innovation in the use of wood in construction, from impressive modern buildings to new construction products that reduce build times and improve building performance. As a renewable resource with proven low embodied energy, wood is both an environmentally responsible and a highly practical choice as a construction material.  However, forest management practices vary throughout the world: some are highly effective in delivering a sustainable, long term supply of timber; whereas others are less so, and could result in forest depletion and significant environmental degradation.  Against this background, a number of certification schemes have been developed that seek to ensure that all timber is harvested from sources that are at least legally-sourced, and at best, sustainably managed.      

Sustainable Use of Wood in Construction explains how and why wood may be grown sustainably, and how this versatile material can be specified and – most importantly -  sourced, for use in the construction industry. It explains the modern regulatory framework within Europe that seeks to eliminate the use of illegally-harvested wood, and it shows how to ensure that everyone who sells or uses wood for construction is following the rules. Finally, the book explains how, at the end of its first use in construction, wood can be recycled, by reprocessing into another wood-based construction material, or by using it as biomass.

Also available

Wood in Construction: How to avoid costly mistakes
Jim Coulson
Paperback, 978 0 4706 5777  

Structural Timber Design to Eurocode 5
Second Edition
Jack Porteous & Abdy Kermani
Paperback, 978 0 4706 7500 7


Preface xi

Acknowledgements xix

1 Some Things You Should Know About Wood, Trees and Forests 1

1.1 Some basic information on how trees grow 1

1.2 Basic tree types – softwoods and hardwoods 3

1.3 The properties of timbers 5

1.4 Different forests and tree types 6

1.5 Rate of growth 7

1.6 Natural forests 8

1.7 Managed forests: Conifers 12

1.8 Managed forests – broadleaves 16

2 The Concept of Being ‘Sustainable’ 25

2.1 Being sustainable: A definition and a target 25

2.2 What can we do to help? 28

2.3 Using the forest resource: The economic argument 33

2.4 Legal harvesting 35

2.5 The Timber Trade Federation: Introducing its responsible purchasing policy 37

3 Voluntary Timber Certification Schemes 41

3.1 Some further details on the RPP 42

3.2 Checking legality – I: The Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) 44

3.3 Checking legality – II: FLEGT 50

3.4 Going beyond FLEGT: MYTLAS 51

3.5 Checking legality – III: Other ‘legality’ certification schemes 52

3.6 Checking sustainability: Chain of Custody Certification 54

3.7 FSC and PEFC as Chain of Custody Certifiers 57

3.8 Other Chain of Custody Certification bodies 61

3.9 UKWAS 62

3.10 Third-party assurance 62

3.11 How Chain of Custody schemes operate 63

4 The UK Government and European Regulations: Legally Trading in World Timbers 65

4.1 Checking up on the checkers: The role of CPET 65

4.2 CPET’s help with legality and sustainability requirements 66

4.3 Legality and sustainability: The UK government’s definitions 67

4.4 Legal timber sources – the UK government’s definition 67

4.5 Sustainable timber sources – the UK government’s definition 68

4.6 Category A and Category B – ‘Proof of Compliance’ 68

4.7 Current and future supplies of certified timber 70

4.8 The EUTR: Europe’s new and compulsory ‘timber legality scheme’ 71

4.9 The meaning of ‘due diligence’ 73

4.10 Satisfying the EUTR 74

4.11 Who actually needs to obey the EUTR? 81

4.12 The ‘first placer on the market’ 81

4.13 CE marking and the CPR 82

4.14 CITES: What exactly is it? 83

5 Specifying Sustainable Timber for any Project: Some Important Dos and Don’ts; With a Bit More About Wood 89

5.1 Using wood in a sustainable way 90

5.2 The government’s Timber Procurement Policy (TPP): A brief reminder 91

5.3 Certificates 91

5.4 What if I can’t get the timber I want? 94

5.5 The use of recycled timber 96

5.6 Insisting on a particular Chain of Custody ‘brand’ for your certified timber 97

5.7 Deciding which wood to use 99

5.8 Some of wood’s other characteristics 105

6 Some Principal Softwoods Used in Construction in the UK: With Their Main Properties and Sustainability Credentials 109

7 A Selection of Hardwoods Used in the UK: With Their Main Properties and Sustainability Credentials 125

8 Re-use of Timber and Wood Products: The Carbon Cycle, End of Life Disposal and Biomass 155

8.1 The true ‘carbon cycle’ 156

8.2 End of life disposal of timber and wood-based products 158

8.3 Recycled timber 158

8.4 Disposal of timber in landfill 159

8.5 Burning wood: Fossil fuels versus biomass 160

8.6 Biomass 162

9 Energy Considerations and Construction Materials 167

9.1 Embodied energy 168

9.2 Cradle to grave analysis 171

9.3 Cradle to cradle 172

9.4 BREEAM 173

Appendix 1 Terms, Abbreviations and Acronyms Used in this Book 179

Appendix 2 Timber and Wood Products: Some Helpful Organisations 185

Index 187