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A timber frame’s effect on the environment

from Daizen News,  March 2014

It’s been a focus for us to understand clearly how our timber frame building operation impacts the environment. Naturally, cutting trees seems like damaging the environment, but a B.C. Log and Timber Building Industry lifecycle assessment (PDF) shows that a timber frame can be environmental friendly if built right.

The key is to build a structure that will last a long time. Doing this captures (or sequesters) a significant amount of carbon in the timber.

Once a tree reaches, say, 100 years in age, it is close to the maximum amount of carbon it can hold.

Two interesting things from this report:

  1. a cut tree will not capture any additional carbon, so, past that point, it is not improving the air; and
  2. in British Columbia, natural disasters like fire and insect infestation cause much more damage than harvesting by humans.

Sources of forest disturbance in Canada.

This tells us that, if we harvest trees arefully and, in that harvested area, continue to plant and grow trees, then harvesting a tree is not damaging the environment. Using the wood to build a long-lasting frame is a positive action, because it “saves” the carbon in the wood from being released into the atmosphere.

After the tree is harvested, how it’s processed is significant. A short-distance haul (and minimal use of fossil fuel for production) is the next factor to consider. Daizen uses mostly hydropower, with its computer-controlled minimum-input to maximum-output ratio.

Finally, the stain product used affects the environment the most in our operations.

Interested in finding out more?

At Daizen, we ensure client expectations and understanding of processes are met through all phase of our work, from structural design and engineering to fabrication of timber frames and assembly and installation.