Today the buying motives that drive demand for raw materials must satisfy and take account not only of the availability of the material, but its price and value in today’s market place and, importantly, the effect that these materials have on our environment. This is measured from the moment raw materials are extracted, or harvested, through to the end of their lives, during which some of it will have served as part of a consumer product or built into our infrastructure. Recycling plays a positive part in this overall scheme and then eventually the effect of disposal of the material and the effect of this on the carbon content.
Timber in its natural state acts as a carbon sink. Public awareness of the significance of CO₂ on the world’s climate has grown since passage of the Kyoto Protocol, which promotes their use as a form of carbon offset. This was bolstered by the recent gathering of the World leaders in Paris to commit to new targets for carbon emissions. Timber when used in building products, such as windows and doors has a negative carbon effect in use over the life of the product some 60 years and more.
Heriott Watt University research
A study undertaken by Heriott Watt University in 2013, carried out by the Institute for Building & Urban Design, identified findings carried out on typical and popular materials used for windows and doors, including timber and PVC-u. The results of these studies on Service Life Planning (SLP), Whole Life Cost (WLC) and Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) identified that timber windows made to the high performance criteria of the Wood Window Alliance (WWA), have a life expectancy of between 56-65 years, more than twice that of PVC-u. The study also identified the significant carbon savings that are made when a timber frame window is used in comparison with a PVC-u frame which is roughly 1.5 tonnes CO₂ per average home over its lifetime – that’s the equivalent of driving more than 5,000 miles in a small family car.
Even at the end of its life the carbon from a timber window when burnt is only released to the atmosphere at that point. If the material is re-used, or re-cycled, which is often the case, the carbon is further retained.
Without wood we wouldn’t survive, this is an indisputable fact, but it’s what we do with it that counts. Today, it still keeps 95% of the world’s most populated areas warm, areas in which poverty is most likely to prevail. This has been, and still is, the major source of the world’s deforestation. Indeed over the past 100 years we might have used tropical hardwood to make fine furniture perhaps, without due care for the future, but the world has thankfully now changed and today we really do care and there is evidence all around us across the world.
Legal evidence of our sustainability
As a responsible manufacturer our industry certification schemes span the processes of procurement starting from the forest, through the distribution chains, and to the manufacturer providing FSC and PFC certification as well as Chain of Custody. For the consumer this represents a cache of legal evidence of the source and sustainability of the timber we use, how we use it, and the performance of the products it will be used to create. The latter backed up by very exacting performance tests for fire resistance, thermal efficiency, security and acoustic performance.
What a bargain – no other material can compete with wood!