WITH increasing public awareness on sustainability and a rising number of consumers making conscious choices to lessen their environmental impact, a key solution to safeguarding our forests lies in resource-efficient usage of sustainably sourced and manufactured timber-based products.
The reason why? When properly managed, timber can be a renewable resource with a low carbon footprint, lending itself to a versatile variety of applications such as beams, trusses, panelling, flooring, doors, as well as windows and furniture.
In Malaysia, only trees that meet the strict criteria are selectively cut for industry usage based on Sustainable Forest Management practices, thus also opening up the forest canopy for younger trees to grow and perpetuate the forest and supply of timber at the same time.
While it’s common knowledge that trees lock up carbon dioxide (CO2) in their trunks and branches, lesser known is the fact that the CO2 absorbed by trees as they grow remains effectively stored within wood-based material, even after being turned into products.
As for the carbon footprint of wood processing, the production of one tonne of cement requires five times more energy than the production of one tonne of wood; 14 times more energy for one tonne of glass; 24 times more energy for one tonne of steel and 126 times more energy for one tonne of aluminium.
When used in construction as the structure of a building, the high strength-to-weight ratio of timber performs better in case of a fire outbreak, as compared to steel and concrete.
Although steel will buckle and even concrete will crack and crumble under high temperatures, timber columns have been found to be still standing and functioning after intense fires, due to the slow rate of burn.
But the unique nature of wood as a material goes beyond that, as sustainable usage can prolong its service lifespan via the cascade principle. A large portion of timber-based products can be repurposed for a longer life cycle that helps conserve nature and the environment at the same time.
Wooden structures used in construction, for instance, can be easily dismantled and reused when a building is demolished; smaller wooden products can be cut into carves or turned into other items.
If the wood cannot be reused or repurposed, there’s the option to recycle, where old wooden items can be chipped and pulped, then reconstituted into boards or recycled wood for a new lease of life, ready to be a part of something new.
In cases where recycling is not possible, wood waste can be used as biomass to generate energy/electricity through combustion, thus reducing the need for landfills.