The idea of a “green” construction project using wood as a building material may seem absurd, but it is actually quite possible. In fact, wood has several qualities that make it the ideal building material for green construction, including its bio-based nature and its renewability. Nevertheless, there are still other ways by which a wood building can be made “greener” and by which its impact on the environment can be reduced. By designing a structure for increased durability, applying deconstruction processes, and by recycling, wood may actually be a better material from an environmental standpoint.
Designing a wood building for durability
Any effort to make a wood building more efficient and “greener” is wasted if the building lasts only for a few years. The key to a truly green structure is sustainability. A wood frame structure will have to last as long as it takes for the trees that went into its construction to grow. If the building in question has a shorter lifespan, it cannot really be said to be “sustainable”. A wooden structure can be made to last longer with the use of mechanical barriers and/or chemical treatments and coatings.
One other factor that may determine the sustainability of a wood building is how well it can be adapted to another use. Certain “modular” designs make it easy to adapt an existing structure to a new application. In some cases, it may even be possible to repurpose an existing building for increased load capability or to make it more energy efficient.
Wood deconstruction and recycling
There are many ways by which wood and its byproducts can be reused in a construction project, from salvaging larger pieces of timber to using wood mulch for landscaping. Some construction firms even use wood scraps as bio-fuel for the operation of onsite equipment. These and many other methods of recycling can help make a construction project “greener” in some small way.