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Timber, as a construction material, is relatively eco-friendly. One analyses the environmental feasibility of a material on the basis of the effect it has on the environment during manufacture, construction of the facility and energy use after constructing the house.
This refers to the green house gases released by the product as well as the total amount of energy required during the lifecycle of the material. Some materials may consume plenty of energy during construction but may lead to energy savings during occupation of the facility.
Timber in floor construction
Timber manufacture results in minimal by-products and even the relatively small amounts that do come about can be recycled. For instance, they can make mulch or generate heat in kilns (Hanson 2000). Members of the population are concerned about native plantations as well as forests.
Not only do these areas act as habitats for biological species like plants and wildlife, they are also important sources of recreation and stabilize soil properties in those settings. Forests serve a host of other functions in the country’s ecology.
Therefore, when architects choose the material, they may disturb these natural settings and the organisms that rely on them. Nonetheless, proper planning for their use can mitigate the problem. Plantation forests are an environmentally sustainable method of sourcing for timber.
These areas are well managed as pre-planned building sites that have been created specifically for manmade uses. Manufacturers would need to liaise with timber associations in charge of these areas to source the materials (National Timber and Development Council Australia 2001).
Energy requirements for preparing timber for construction are relatively lower than the ones used by other construction materials. The only process that consumes a lot of energy is drying. This stage accounts for three-quarter of the energy consumption.
In a mill, workers often rely on wood cuttings from the same timber to provide heat energy. Only minimal gas and electricity is needed for this material. Usually, the latter sources account for 15% of the energy used.
It is possible to rely on kilns that consume solar energy as described by the Department of Conservation and Land Management. Timber in the form of clad can consume 31,020 MJ for construction and will need 24,750 MJ for a forty-year maintenance period.
Brick veneer timber requires 92,565 MJ for construction and 0 MJ for maintenance. Double-brick needs 141,900 MJ for construction and O MJ for maintenance. Aerated concrete consumes 76,560 MJ for construction and 24, 750 MJ of energy for maintenance.
Finally, steel takes up 75,900 MJ in production and 24,750 for a forty-year maintenance period (University of Tasmania 2013).
In comparison to the other materials, veneer timber is the most favourable because it has low energy needs. Steel may require much less energy than timber but it is not practical for floors.
In the manufacture of building products, timber has promising results with regard to green house gas emission. Steel releases about 5,320 kg/m3 of carbon into the atmosphere and retains no carbon. Aluminium has one of the most unfavourable figures for carbon emission.
About 22,000 kg/m3 of the element will enter the atmosphere during manufacture of the product/ concrete releases a relatively small amount – 120 kg/m3 will enter the atmosphere during the creation of this material but no carbon will be retained.
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Conversely, sawn timber only releases a modest 15kg/m3 of carbon. It is the only material among typical construction materials that stores carbon.
Construction allows timber to retain 250 kg/m3 of the element (Hardy 2008). The product requires minimal intervention during construction thus explaining why it produces very impressive results.
Timber causes negligible site disturbance as professionals can manipulate the material to accommodate environmental goals.
First, the material allows for planning flexibility. For instance, one can think about the number of trees that one intends on using and then work around it. Most timber floors are raised from the ground.
This means that one can follow the topography of a site without having to dig, fill in, or change drainages for the material.
In comparison, concrete floors would require disruption of the natural landscape of an area. If several buildings are constructed with such materials, then their topography will be altered (Tam & Tam 2006).
During the construction of timber floors, one will require relatively fewer materials and workers than other conventional materials. Timber is easier to lift than products like concrete, so one would not need to invest in as many personnel or equipment as these conventional products.
Even the time one takes to create the building would be dramatically reduced if one switched from the latter products to timber. Wooden components are standardized and easy to use. Therefore, employees would need to spend a short time in preparing the material for assembly (Hugo 2012).
When one builds a house floor with timber, one would need to consider the environmental impact of the item after construction. In this aspect, concerns about biological damage must be addressed.
Fungi, termites or other insects can attack a natural building material like timber unless precautionary measures are taken.
This means that the durability of the house may be put into question. One may need to repair or construct a new house in the place of the damaged ones (Bjornfot 2006).
During the use of the house, timber floors have a certain advantage that other building materials may not offer. Lightweight timber accords users sufficient comfort in hot climates. Timber cools rapidly at night thus providing relatively cool rooms.
This would eliminate the need for an air conditioner and would thus save energy for occupants. Australians spend a relatively high percent of their energy bill on thermal comfort.
These refer to fans or air conditioners when temperatures increase. Therefore, a building material that eliminates the need to use these processes would be quite welcome (Leicester 2001).
On the other hand, if a house has reached its life limit, timber is more eco friendly than other building materials. This material is easily recyclable as the timber elements may be used for other purposes.
For instance, it could be used to make paper, as a fuel source, and as composite when it biodegrades.
Therefore, wastage is limited for the product since building materials often last longer than the building itself. Inorganic products like concrete have very little recycling application (University of Tasmania 2013).
Timber is a flexible and eco-friendly material for floor construction. It has impressive energy consumption rates in manufacture and its carbon emissions are also satisfactory. In addition, the product does not cause site interference and easily adopts to landscapes.
Timber house construction is not costly as the material is easy to move. It accords thermal comfort and eliminates the need to use external sources of energy.
It is recyclable as the construction material has numerous applications. On the other hand, issues of termite and fungi attack as well as forest destruction must be addressed before selecting the material.
Bjornfot, A 2006, An exploration of lean thinking for multi-storey timber housing construction. Web.
Hanson, W 2000, Roman military timber buildings: Construction and reconstruction, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich.
Hardy, A 2008, ‘Timber frame construction’, Batiment International Building Research and Practice, vol. 13 no. 5, pp. 306-309.
Hugo, S 2012, Timber framed construction, Wilhelm Ernst and Sohn, Verlag.
Leicester, R 2001, ‘Engineered durability for timber construction’, Progress in Structural Engineering and Materials, vol. 3 no. 3, pp.216-227.
National Timber and Development Council Australia 2001, Environmentally friendly housing using timber –principles, Forest and Wood Products, Queensland.
Tam, V & Tam, C 2006, ‘A review on the viable technology for construction waste recycling’, Resources, Conservation and Recycling, vol. 47 no. 3, pp. 209-221.
University of Tasmania 2013, Timber building in Australia. Web.