Timber as a renewable material

Date Published

16 August 2022

Document Type



The use of timber in construction is becoming increasingly popular because of its environmental merits. It is one of the only inherently renewable building materials and has the additional advantage that both the growing tree and the manufactured wood product act as “carbon sinks”, locking in the carbon until the wood is broken down through decay or burning. If suggested UK housing targets of 200,000 homes per year were being met, it is estimated that up to 4 million tonnes of carbon could be sequestered in housing stock every year.

Key Information

Timber is an increasingly popular construction product because of its environmental merits.

Sustainable forest management is essential to avoid deforestation.

Management by continuous cover maintains the wellbeing of the forest ecosystem.

Clear felling is common practice for traditional plantation forestry with a commercial focus, but it can be detrimental to the environment.

Case studies

In 2010 the writer Alain de Botton, author of The Architecture of Happiness, introduced Living Architecture, a not-for-profit holiday rental company.

In the 1990s Oxo Tower Wharf entered a new lease of life when Coin Street Community Builders began a major refurbishment project to transform the building into an awardwinning mixed use development of co-operative homes, retail design studios, specialist shops, galleries, restaurants, cafes and bars.