Net Zero – How Timber Frame Can Contribute
Unless you have been living under a rock, ‘net zero’ and ‘carbon neutral’ are terms that you will have heard more and more frequently over the past few years, and even more so since June 2019 when the UK became the first major economy in the world to commit to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. In simple terms this means that we pledge to not add to the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere by keeping our emissions as low as possible whilst also removing from the atmosphere an equivalent, or greater, amount than that which is still released.
But why have we pledged to do this? Well, the science all points to the fact that in order to limit the increase in temperature of the planet to 1.5 degrees (the best we can realistically hope to achieve) we must, by the second half of this century become ‘net zero’.
We have all seen the recent effects of climate change with countries all over the world, including here in the UK, suffering from the devastation caused by flooding and uncontrollable wildfires, and as the planet’s temperature continues to increase this is only going to get worse. So, something needs to happen in order to minimise this increase and it needs doing quickly.
Sunday October 31st saw the start of COP26 with 197 countries coming together in Glasgow to discuss and commit to urgent global climate action, with Prince Charles warning that it is the ‘last chance saloon’ to save the planet from the catastrophic effects of climate change. But how exactly can we contribute to a net zero way of living?
As individuals we can commit to lowering our carbon footprint through a variety of actions – dietary changes, wasting less electricity, food, water etc – all of which can reduce our impact on the environment.
As businesses, however, we can make an even bigger difference. And with the built environment contributing around 40% of the UK’s carbon footprint, businesses within the construction industry have a particularly large responsibility to ensure a shift towards a low-carbon pathway.
And this is where the timber frame sector is in the advantageous position of offering a product that is already effectively carbon neutral. Not only does the timber used in construction capture more carbon than it emits, but this modern method of construction also generates a significantly lower carbon footprint during its manufacturing process than other construction materials, such as steel and concrete. And ensuring that your timber is sourced from a reputable timber frame construction specialist, a list of which can be obtained from the Structural Timber Association, will mean that your timber is coming from responsibly managed forests which also helps to encourage biodiversity as well as increase forestation.
In addition to this, the high levels of accuracy involved in the design and manufacture process result in very little waste, and any that is produced can often be used elsewhere or even burned to heat the factory that it is being manufactured in.
But the environmental benefits of timber as a construction material do not stop here at a manufacturing level. The excellent thermal performance of timber frame results in lower emissions over the entire lifetime of the build, with less need for heating during the winter months for example.
Whilst our need for more housing continues to increase, but also our awareness of the need to live a more responsible and sustainable lifestyle, could timber frame be a part of the answer?
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