There is a very simple way to respect the environment and to preserve it for future generations: simply by choosing wood products one reduces greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere which has great benefits for the environment.
It is imperative that governments and citizens make the greatest efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Increases in CO2 emissions can be offset to an extent by their accumulation in carbon sinks such as forests and other plant biomass. It has also been recognised that wooden materials (harvested wood products) are an important pool of carbon and that they constitute a carbon sink (see e.g. Brown 1998, IPCC 2006, IPCC 2007). Choosing wood products reduces atmospheric levels of greenhouse gases in two particular ways:
• It is well known that trees clean the air by absorbing carbon dioxide (CO2). But not everybody knows that wood products continue to store much of this carbon, which is kept out of the atmosphere for the lifetime of the product – even longer if the wood is re-used and recycled. Basically, 50% of the dry weight of wood is carbon.
• Manufacturing processes associated with wood products require less (fossil fuel-based) energy and are responsible for far less greenhouse gas emissions than the manufacture of other major building materials. According to research 'substituting wood products for more greenhouse gas (GHG)-intensive building products in cladding, wall, roof and floor framing could reduce the GHG emissions of a typical house by up to 18 tonnes over its life'.

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building materials and constructions

Building materials and constructions - Wood is part of the solution

Using renewable materials with low-carbon footprints and improvements of energy performance of buildings to reduce emissions provides low-cost and short-term opportunities. As explained before, the main opportunities are the storage of carbon in wood and wood products, the potential offered by the substitution of other (energy or carbon-intensive) materials and the efficient eco-cycle of wood products.

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Building techniques

Several common techniques are available for constructing buildings with supporting frameworks made of wood. One way is to use structural wood members to form a frame which is covered with structural wood panels. Foundations are generally concrete. This simple building technology is often used in the construction of single-family houses but also in the construction of multi-storey buildings. Another technique is to use solid timber for the supporting framework. Cross-laminated boards are glued together and used to build walls and joists. The walls may need to be insulated to give the building a high level of energy efficiency. The technique is well suited to the construction of multi-storey buildings. Yet another technique is the system of columns and beams. In this case cross-laminated timber in different forms is used to a large extent for the load-bearing construction. All the framework systems mentioned satisfy modern criteria for fire safety, noise pollution and energy efficiency. Special consideration must be given to these functional criteria in the case of multi-storey buildings. Well tested technical solutions are now widely available.