Throughout history, wood has been the most useful and adaptable building material. These days, more and more people are choosing timber in the construction, decoration and furnishing of their homes. However, what many consumers don’t realise is that when sourced responsibly, it’s not only beautiful, but a good environmental choice too.

Chris Philpot heads up Planet Ark‘s ‘Make It Wood’ campaign which aims to increase the use of responsibly sourced wood in Australia for building and for renovating. Planet Ark is one of Australia’s best known environmental organisations and has been working to help create a more sustainable Australia since 1992.

Renovating or building in wood has many benefits

Used in both traditional and contemporary fashions, there’s no denying that wood is naturally beautiful and aesthetically pleasing. Wood is available in a large range of colours and tones, grains and textures, it is visually attractive, and each piece is unique. Internal and external cladding, floorboards, banisters, decking and furniture are just a few of its uses. Wood is open to a variety of artistic options, such as polishing, varnishing, staining or painting. Showcasing its inner beauty, by leaving it raw and exposed is one of the most attractive trends, especially for projects that use reclaimed or recycled wood.

Wood helps tackle climate change

It’s not all about looks though. Choosing responsibly sourced wood over more carbon-intensive building materials can effectively help to tackle climate change. Wood can often be used in place of materials like steel, aluminium, concrete or plastics, which require large amounts of energy to produce. The production and processing of wood uses comparatively less, energy, giving wood products a very low carbon footprint.

Wood the only renewable building material

Wood is also renewable, unlike other building materials. Well-managed forests and plantations, such as those recognised by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), will regrow to provide a wide range of other benefits such as further carbon storage, oxygen generation and forest habitat.

Wood is the only building material made from the sun’s energy. It stores carbon that the tree has absorbed during its growth. Using wood ensures that this carbon is retained in the building, rather than being in the atmosphere contributing to climate change.

Choosing responsibly sourced wood

Amid the growing fashion of designing and building with wood is an increasing awareness about its original source. When choosing wood, it is important to make the right choice in order to avoid buying wood that has been illegally logged and imported or harvested from forests of high conservation value. The best options are to use recycled or certified wood.

Look for recycled wood

Using recycled wood extends its life and prevents the need to use newly sourced wood. Not only can it show amazing character from a former life, but the carbon contained in this recycled wood is stored for the life of the new structure.

Recycled wood is often salvaged from demolished houses, old buildings, sheds, factories, warehouses, wharves, boats and other wood products. It is available from specialist wood suppliers, second-hand building material outlets, larger demolition companies and demolition sites, so putting in a call and explaining what you’re looking for is a great way to start exploring your options.

Look for certified wood

In terms of certification, Planet Ark believes that the FSC label is currently the strongest wood certification scheme available in Australia. Choosing wood and paper products with this logo means people will be supporting high standards of forest management in Australia and around the world – a definite plus in the journey towards a naturally beautiful home and a healthier environment.

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