Timber on the main stage in 2021

By | 2021-01-20T07:28:58+00:00 January 20th, 2021|

After a short break, Timber iQ is back into the swing of things, albeit with a touch of trepidation as the second wave of Covid-19 wreaks havoc around the country. As the world stumbles into a new year with Covid-19 terrorising the global population, the shift towards more sustainable and healthier lifestyles is gaining momentum. Climate change, environmental concerns, equality, and human rights top the international agenda. Providing affordable housing and access to water and electricity will become a prerequisite if countries want to turn their economies around after the Covid-19 destruction.

Therefore, the Department of Trade, Industry and Competition’s (dtic’s) initiative to promote the use of timber as an alternative building material should be lauded. There is a huge backlog of housing in South Africa and more than enough timber to be used with traditional building materials to make an impact (as a recent study done by the University of Stellenbosch featured in this newsletter proves). Despite all the myths about using timber as a building material, there are many benefits and advantages of using it as alternative.

According to Chrisna du Plesssis at the University of Pretoria’s Department of Architecture there are many cost and efficiency advantages of using timber rather than steel and concrete. The reduced cost of shipping, quicker construction, and the ability to create jobs as a result of off-site construction are clear benefits.

Moreover, wood is a much better insulator than masonry and concrete, steel and aluminium, for example, and construction requires a smaller team.

However, timber’s affect on human well-being is probably its most important quality. Wood reduces noise levels and reduces stress. According to Du Plessis a study of 1 000 Australian workers, there is a correlation between the presence of wood and employees’ overall satisfaction at work, lower absenteeism, higher levels of concentration, and improved productivity.

Let’s hope 2021 is the year that timber makes it into the hearts and minds of all South Africans.