PEFC Certified Timber - Providing the Creative and Sustainable Edge
The use of PEFC-certified timber is central to securing the best building performance for architects, designers and contractors.
The pressure has never been greater on those creating the next generation of UK construction. Buildings need to be cost-effective and functional, but importantly look stunning and have impeccable environmental credentials. Eco-building has never been so important and PEFC-certified timber is at the heart of making this all happen.
As a fashionable and attractive material, timber enables architects and designers to develop creative solutions to green building and low-carbon design – not just with structural applications such as timber frame – but with engineered woods such as Glulam and structural insulated panels (SIPs), alongside the various decking, cladding and wide range of joinery options available.
Timber looks and feels great. Not only does it offer dimensional stability and durability, it can integrate perfectly with any of the other mainstream building materials, to create seamlessly successful hybrid schemes. This flexibility allows architects and engineers to blend timber into any structure, either as a main building system or as secondary elements such as staircases or attic trusses to maximise building performance. The potential and scope for timber application is massive.
Certainly the variety and species of timber available to architects is enough to fire the imagination. With an endless variety of colours and wood character to choose from, PEFC-certified timber is helping the architectural profession find more innovative ways to find practical and cost-effective answers to progressively strict sustainability questions.
PEFC-certified timber is widely available from an extensive network of merchants and suppliers, with a huge variety of softwoods and hardwoods available, including: Western Red Cedar, European Larch, Douglas Fir, European Redwood, Beech, Cherry, European Oak, American White Oak, American White Ash, Finnish Spruce and Birch with Dark Red Meranti, Majau, Mersawa, Merawan and Gerutu for windows and Balau, Red Balau, Kempas and Keruing for decking. Black Walnut, Cherry and White Oak are perfect for glamorous interiors and high-specification flooring and innovative modified woods such as Accoya® are now PEFC-certified.
The self-build sector has long been a stronghold for timber frame in particular. Away from the glitz of Grand Designs-type dream houses, many eco-conscious homeowners are turning to self-build on a smaller scale to create individual bespoke properties or refurbishment projects. Architects are now increasingly being called on to design with timber systems to provide high levels of insulation and environmental performance and create a bold architectural statement at the same time.
Of course, compared to concrete, steel, brick and block or aluminium, certified timber has unique sustainability credentials as a renewable building material. Timber has the lowest embodied CO2 of any commercially available building material and delivers fantastic thermal performance with high levels of air tightness. Using PEFC-certified timber directly helps achieve Levels 3 to 6 of the Code for Sustainable Homes and plays a pivotal role in satisfying the acoustic and thermal requirements of Part L and Part E of the Building Regulations. It is also a huge motivation in achieving Excellent BREEAM ratings and meeting exacting SAP targets and PassivHaus performance levels. Remember that using timber can also reduce the need to introduce expensive renewable energy additions to a project – think "Fabric First".
In the modern construction world the spotlight is firmly focused on responsible purchasing and proving that the timber used on any project is certified as legal and sustainable. PEFC has over 230 million hectares of certified forests in 30 countries, making it the world's largest forest certification system, with Chain of Custody documentation demonstrating that each step of the supply chain – from the forest to the construction site – has been monitored closely by independent auditing.
An increasingly attractive prospect for architects and contractors is creating a fully certified project. It is now possible to have a complete PEFC Project Chain of Custody Certificate to provide total confidence in meeting sustainability targets. This is based on the total input of PEFC-certified raw material to the whole project and enables a single claim to be made regarding the timber products or group of products used. Importantly, this also includes the site at which the project was manufactured or assembled and also the specific time frame over which the project was developed.
As new incentives to use timber appear, there has never been a better time to choose your core material to design and build with from a PEFC-certified supply. The UK Government's 2016 targets for zero carbon new housing is a continuing challenge and the impending EU legislation totally banning illegally harvested timber and timber products from the EU market in 2013, will prove to be a watershed moment for sustainable timber and forest certification.