Sustainable timber sits at the heart of tomorrow’s construction industry

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Ben Gunneberg, CEO of the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC International), believes that sustainable forest management is of fundamental importance in our efforts to create sustainable societies and sustainable cities.

“Forests are at the core of global efforts towards a green economy, an economy that results in improved human well-being and social equity, while significantly reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities. This requires society to accomplish a variety of seemingly contradicting demands: We need to protect forest ecosystems; improve the livelihoods of the more than 1.6 billion people that depend on forests; and significantly scale up the use of forest resources, especially timber. Timber is renewable, recyclable, and has much better footprint than competing materials such as steel, aluminum or concrete. Sustainable forest management allows us to respond to these demands and utilize of the unique advantages that timber provides us with, while at the same time contributing to safeguarding the world’s forests”, explains Ben Gunneberg.

The economic value

Today, just over half of us live in cities and that number is predicted to grow to 75 percent over the next 20 years. This means that some three billion people will need a new home over that period. In addition, there are an estimated one billion people in the world living in slums and some 100 million people are homeless.

Ben Gunneberg

Ben Gunneberg

“The opportunity is therefore not only to build these homes, but to do so in a way that results in the lowest footprint possible. Sustainable timber therefore sits at the heart of tomorrow’s construction industry. As well as having the lowest embodied CO2 of any commercially available building material, it is increasingly seen as the simple and straightforward way to achieve a high-performance building solution,” he adds.

CLT: an amazing development

“One of the most amazing developments is cross laminated timber (CLT),” Mr. Gunneberg highlighted. CLT is an engineered wood panel typically consisting of three, five, or seven layers of dimension timber oriented at right angles to one another, and then glued to form structural panels. This gives it exceptional strength, dimensional stability and rigidity. It is lightweight compared to other materials, and is well suited to floors, walls and roofs. In the interior of buildings it can be left exposed providing additional aesthetic attributes. As the panels are prefabricated building components, this can help speed up construction practices and allows for off-site construction.


Writer: Mieke Vercruijsse – Communication Manager PEFC Belgium

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