Reducing our carbon footprint
Given that carbon from construction materials represents about 12% of the world’s overall carbon emissions, the sector clearly has a responsibility for change, especially considering the Paris Agreement, which lays out a reduction of at least 55% of greenhouse gas emission by 2030 from 1990 levels. “It’s entrenched in law, it’s not just a nice thing to do. The tree is a magic carbon capture machine,” Andrew says, adding that as well as using existing timber, planting more is essential to tackling climate change, as trees absorb and store carbon as they grow.
Timber as a structural element gives ease of construction and prefabrication
“What makes timber so good as a structural material is that it’s not only made of carbon, but it’s easy to adapt and reassemble,” Waugh continues. Using modern methods of construction (MMC), timber elements can be constructed off-site in a much more accurate way. For one mixed-use project in London the original floors and ceilings were constructed using cross-laminated timber. Waugh explains how, when an additional staircase was required during the life cycle of the building, they simply cut out space through its ten storeys, using a circular saw .” By comparison, the process of cutting concrete would have been more time consuming, complicated and costly.