Natural performance & other environmental factors

Structural timber is green and natural

Cross-laminated timber is presented as a sustainable, natural and ’green’ choice for constructing buildings and infrastructure projects. It is not. It is a chemical composite material. It is not a tree. It is an artificial product created in a factory.

Timber is not naturally fire, water and rot resistant, or able to withstand an insect attack on its own ‘natural’ abilities. Glues, chemical preservatives and other artificial ingredients are required to give timber properties that are unnatural and nothing like the ‘natural’ perception often conveyed.

Fact: concrete is naturally rot, pest and fire resistant

Volatile organic compounds (VOCs) are chemicals found in many common building materials that can escape into the air and cause illness and allergic reactions. These emissions are one of the contributors to sick building syndrome in which the health and well-being of building occupants are negatively impacted. Concrete is an inherently non-emitting source of VOCs in contrast with other building materials that need treatments for rot, pest and fire resistance. 

Facts & Fallacies

Strength, durability resilience & safety

Society expects the built environment – buildings, bridges and other infrastructure – to be enduring and safe – safety is the first priority.
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Biodiversity & Land use

Trees are the ‘lungs of the planet’. They absorb atmospheric CO2 and play a critical role in the fight against climate change. Trees, and the biodiversity that they support, are under threat from deforestation.
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Carbon emissions & circularity

To know if a material is really ecological, it is important to look at the whole life of the product from sourcing/extraction of raw materials, including the different processes and treatments transportation, in use maintenance and end of life.
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Local availability

Long supply chains inevitable bring emissions and energy use that are often not accounted for in assessing the credentials of a material.
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Versatility & design

Structural versatility provides the engineer, often working with the architect, enormous scope to meet the application requirements in an optimum way. 
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