By HWZ International

Timber construction has taken off and some countries are far more advanced when it comes to using timber as a building material. Timber products offer solutions for modern sustainable construction. Here are seven reasons to build with timber in South Africa.

Timber products offer solutions for modern sustainable construction. Image credit: HWZ International

Timber products offer solutions for modern sustainable construction. Image credit: HWZ International

1. Timber protects the climate

Each cubic meter of timber can hold one ton of CO2 and each tree used in the timber industry creates a place for a new tree which will grow in the forest and actively tie the CO2 from the air. Each timber construction means we also produce less CO2 intensive materials such as concrete and steel at the same time.

2. Timber is a renewable resource

While most other building materials must be produced using limited resources on Earth, timber simply grows back. In Austria, each second, one cubic metre of timber grows, similarly in other parts of middle European Countries, from where HWZi exports construction spruce to South Africa.

3. Timber is nowadays a high-tech material

Timber constructions have been used for centuries, however intensive research and development brought new prospects of manufacturing timber which provided architects and builders with an opportunity to use timber in new ways. Various methods of laminations allow using timber for projects, where basic rough sawn timber has its limitations. Certified vertically or horizontally glue-laminated beams and cross laminated timber (CLT) offer dimensional stability, various standard dimensions and surface grades. Timber is also a perfect material for prefabricated buildings, it reduces not only the time on the building site, but also noise and mess (neighbours will be very thankful for that).

4. Timber brings diversity to the cities

New ways of manufacturing and computerised prefabrication allow new forms and motivates architects to design new shapes and to use visual timber for family houses as well as public buildings. Timber has become a choice even for tall buildings and skyscrapers, especially in countries with a long history of timber constructions such as Canada, Finland or Austria. Even in South Africa, the Novatop Solid wood construction system is certified for multi-storey buildings.

5. Timber is a lightweight material with a high bearing capacity

Thanks to the light weight of timber (weight of kiln dried spruce is approximately 450 kg/m3), timber constructions are much lighter than its equivalent built from concrete or brick and mortar. This saves money and place for thick fundaments for new projects and allows extensions of existing buildings, which will be in many cases not possible with other building materials. A good example is extensions over garages.

6. Timber doesn’t produce any wastage

Each piece of a tree can be used – the bark for garden decorations or power industry, wood chips for cellulose production or power industry, main material for construction and side boards for packaging or specific parts of construction. The moment timber construction is not used any more, it can be easily and ecologically removed, and material can be either used or demolished without polluting the air.

7. Timber offers a pleasant indoor climate

There are many rational arguments for building with timber, however the final decision is often mostly an emotional one. The smell of timber brings nature indoors, and much research shows that visual surface timber in the interior has a positive impact on a person’s mood – it’s also a warm building material which helps to regulate indoor climate in a very natural way.

The use of timber in buildings offers various aesthetic and structural benefits, as the timber lends itself to open plan designs and allows for complete enclosure in effective insulation for energy efficiency.