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‘Wood’ – Nature’s material for environmental sustainability

Timber is often regarded as one of the most sustainable and environment friendly material available to mankind. Since it can be harvested and regenerated on a continuous cycle, it is considered renewable. As a product of nature, timber is safe, non-toxic, and ages naturally, which does not damage the environment.

The fact that timber is made up of carbon, fixed in its building blocks, timber is also labelled as a greenhouse positive product, which results in lower environmental impact compared to other conventional construction materials, such as steel, concrete, and aluminium. In fact, using timber is a good method to fight the global climate change phenomenon.

Carbon is the basic building block of materials in the world, and the fact that trees use carbon effectively during the photosynthesis process to fix it, trees contribute positively towards mitigation of climate change. It has been shown that about half the dry weight of a living tree is carbon, stored for the life of the tree, and retained throughout the timber manufacturing process. For instance, by building 150,000 wooden framed houses, a total of 1,200,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide are captured, which indirectly contributes towards climate change mitigation. This is owing to the fact that timber requires less fossil fuel energy per unit volume of other conventional construction material, which significantly reduces the amount of pollutant produced. Therefore, building with 1m3 of timber, can save up to 1 ton of CO2 emission.

Studies from many parts of the world have shown that being surrounded by wood significantly improves wellbeing. A recent report commissioned by the Forest Products Research Institute, which also included a survey finding that reflected the variations among populations in the ASEAN region who are "innately drawn towards wood".

- Some of the reported health benefits of living with wood include:
- Improved emotional health,
- Improved air quality,
- Comfort living, and
- Lower stress levels and soothing.

It has been found that those who spend over 90% of their time with wood, have been found to be living healthier. Other advantages of wood include: (1) although timber is a combustible material it burns in a slow, predictable and measurable way. In fact, wood slows down the spread of fire due to the formation of a layer of charcoal, which allows time for fire escapes. This natural self-defence mechanism increases the possibility for a timber structure to survive a fire while maintaining its strength and stability.

Timber is naturally an insulating material that creates a barrier between heat and cold. Timber is a better insulator as its thermal conductivity increases with density, creating warmth. The natural thermal properties of timber also maximise the efficiency of insulation materials as wood will not become cold or dissipate heat, therefore requiring less energy to maintain warmth throughout a building.

In a recent report by the ASIA-Enviro Corp., it was found that house and health showed a strong positive correlation. Some of the findings from the report include:

- Residents in aged care facilities show positive responses when living in a ‘woody’ environment.
- Students in classrooms pay greater attention when studying in an environment with more wood.

Two out of three workers in most offices feel happier when having wooden furniture and articles.
In essence, increasing the use of wood for multiple applications, is one way to reward nature and maintain its sustainability. In fact, using WOOD is GOOD, for its nature’s gift to mankind to ensure environmental sustainability and goes in line with the phrase “Only One Earth”.

Tarikh Input: 03/08/2022 | Kemaskini: 03/08/2022 | masridien

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