How to build sustainably with timber

Timber is a great building material to use when you want to limit the impact of your home on the environment. Its versatility means you can use it for everything from roofs to floors, it can allow homes to be built much faster, and the natural visual variation of timber means it looks good too.

But to get the most out of it, the following need to be kept in mind:

1. Check credentials 

Timber can be a very sustainable building material, but only when the supplier has the right processes in place. As such, make sure you choose a timber supplier that is Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC) or Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) approved.

Both of these accreditations mean the supplier follows clear guidelines on things like illegal logging and the wood used can be traced through all stages of manufacturing and distribution.

When choosing a supplier, also check out their environmental certifications. Accreditations like ISO 14001 and ISO50001 mean they produce the timber in an environmentally friendly way.


2. Source local materials 

According to the latest Government statistics, 23% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions come from transport.

By choosing a local supplier for your materials, you can reduce the road miles needed to get items to your site which helps to reduce the environmental impact.


3. Cut down waste 

Anything that goes to landfill is bad news for the environment so minimise on site waste by being as accurate as possible when estimating material quantities. Where there is waste, look for ways to recycle it or, if possible, return to the supplier. Certain suppliers aim to recycle and reuse as much as possible, for example useable off-cuts can be made into smaller truss sections or recycled into other products.


4. Think holistically

When designing and building a home with timber, it’s also important to consider how the material will work with other products to achieve the environmental and comfort standard you want.

Practically speaking, if you want to achieve thermal or acoustic comfort in your home, you’ll need to consider the thickness of insulation required which in turn, will affect where and how timber joists are positioned. By sharing your vision with suppliers, they can work with you to think holistically and make sure you achieve your aims with ease.