Why you will see timber trending in the coming years?

Conservation Folks creator, Emily Folks, outlines the benefits of timber to achieve industry targets

Timber is one of many benefits in boosting the construction industry, according to Emily Folks
Timber is one of many benefits in boosting the construction industry, according to Emily Folks

We've been building with timber in its various forms for millennia. Timber construction dates back to the Neolithic period, or perhaps even earlier.

As soon as we learned how to make tools and cut down trees, wood became a viable option for building homes and other structures. It's still popular, but as we shift our views to creating a more sustainable world, we've had to start looking for other alternatives.

Despite this sustainable shift, timber is expected to start trending in the next few years.

Traditionally, timber buildings were limited on height due to structural concerns. Recent changes to building codes are changing these requirements around the globe.

The International Building Code for the US now permits timber construction projects up to 18 stories. In Canada, these buildings can reach 12 stories. With two of the world's biggest markets making these changes, it won't be long before other countries begin to follow suit.

The construction industry tends to be set in stone — no pun intended — when it comes to trends, and is often slow to change its ways.

However, modular and prefabricated construction is growing in popularity. Industry experts expect this market to be worth $157bn by 2023.

Timber is becoming an integral part of the prefabricated construction industry due to its versatility. While prefabrication techniques lack flexibility, they can reduce costs and scheduling constraints, allowing companies to get more done in less time.

Water scarcity is an enormous problem around the globe. Less than 1% of the planet's water is safe to drink, and the construction industry utilises vast amounts of it. Its use depends heavily on the type of materials chosen for a project.

While steel production has become more sustainable over the last few decades, especially as we switch our focus to recycled products and greener options, wood is more renewable. It requires less water overall, thus helping to reduce water scarcity.

One of the biggest sustainability goals worldwide is to reach net-zero targets, creating sustainable buildings that generate no waste and have almost no carbon footprint.

Timber is a renewable resource that produces fewer greenhouse gases than other construction options.

Biophilic design elements — ones that incorporate more natural light, water and plant life in indoor spaces — are becoming incredibly popular. This is due to their positive effects, helping to reduce stress, improve moods and cognitive function, and even increase creativity.

Timber and other natural building materials are an integral part of these nature-centric designs, which will see them trending in the coming years.

Timber has always been a pivotal part of construction, with its popularity waxing and waning as new techniques and materials hit the market. With things like sustainability and biophilic design at the forefront of everyone's mind, this natural material and others will continue to accelerate for years to come.

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Construction Week - Issue 767
Sep 01, 2020