The benefits of timber specification for the built environment

Forest holidays image of antislip plus Marley product The environmental impact of commercial decking products and the increasing awareness of the impact of human actions, especially in building designs and site layouts, is impacting all aspects of product choice and specification.

Timber deck boards are no different. Where and how is the raw material sourced? What is the product’s carbon footprint? Does the manufacturer demonstrate commitment to sustainability?

As it grows, timber absorbs carbon from the atmosphere and stores it. Using timber as a construction material means carbon is therefore ‘locked in’ to the finished building. The relative lack of processing required to produce a timber product also contributes to its lower embodied carbon footprint, especially compared to the energy intensive processes required to make steel and concrete.

Timber, of course, is a renewable resource, but in order to see the benefit of lower embodied carbon, the raw material has to come from a sustainable, well-managed source. The wider environmental and societal impacts of bad practice in terms of forest management and timber procurement would far outweigh any embodied carbon benefits.

Two schemes exist to promote good practice and ensure there is a truly renewable, sustainable source of timber from which our built environment can benefit.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) is the world’s leading forest certification organisation. They operate schemes for forest certification, chain of custody certification and project certification, as well as labelling.

The PEFC promotes good practice in forests, supporting the families and communities who run them, and promoting the highest ecological, social and ethical standards.

Striving for a similar outcome is the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). For a product to be FSC certified means that it meets the FSC’s ten principles for sustainable forest management, and is “helping to ensure that our forests are alive for generations to come”.

Broadly, those principles relate to: complying with laws and treaties; protecting forest workers, communities and land; avoiding negative environmental and economic impacts; and maintaining an appropriate management plan.

Both PEFC and FSC certification indicate that timber has been responsibly and sustainably sourced, helping to protect the land and communities it has come from.

Visit Marley to learn more about our commitment to reducing our environmental impact and sourcing of sustainable products or to discuss your project needs in detail with our experts.