Build Magazine May 2016

Build Magazine 36 Gareth Barber, MD of The Stable Company, specialist designers and manufacturers of timber buildings. Timber is in the middle of a renaissance. Thanks to a range of ecological, economical and practical perks that many more commonly used building materials simply cannot rival, it finds itself the material of choice for a growing number of domestic and commercial builds. Ecologically, timber is the only carbon-neutral building resource out there. It stores all carbon it takes from the atmosphere (which would otherwise have contributed to the greenhouse effect) and releases it back without surplus when naturally degrading over time. It’s also entirely sustainable, renewable and doesn’t take a lot of energy to create - meeting demands and cutting back on costs to great eco-friendly advantage. This is no small bonus: UK buildings currently account for 40 percent of our total contribution to the greenhouse effect. More than this, the planet has just seen its hottest March - April since records began - therefore, it’s arguably more important than ever that we reduce our carbon footprint in a big way. Only timber can ensure this with every step of your building project. Luckily, it’s very cheap and efficient to be green. Obviously, costs will depend on the size of your building project but you can pretty much be sure, time and time again, that building with timber will be your cheapest option, as it’s incredibly cheap to produce. Ultimately, this is because little energy is needed to convert wood into timber, bringing your cash outflow down while pushing your green efforts up - an inarguably positive exchange. Not only this, a timber building needs very little maintenance over time, as the material’s maximally durable - further saving on pennies in the long run, as timber foundations make for a quality build. A common misconception is that timber won’t endure for longer term projects, but if properly maintained, you can expect decades of service from a good timber build, if not longer. A perhaps surprising case in point is York Cathedral. As a national landmark, it has a significant amount of timberwork, testament to the durability and beauty of the material. Availability of timber is another positive - we currently have more wood grown for timber usage than we’re making the material, so, on pressing GO, you can commence project build pretty much straight away. The material’s additionally produced very quickly (as well as energy efficiently), so even in special cases in which unique parts need making, you shouldn’t be held up. It’ll also meet your vision in terms of flexibility. The annual Wood Awards showcase the very best in timber construction, but importantly the flexibility and beauty of wood to create a million items from homewares to furniture, the possibilities really are endless. A huge growth sector for timber is Education. Schools offer a prime example of timber providing an answer to multiple challenges. Schools face pressure to meet place demand, but must juggle pupil needs and stringent budgets, alongside the need to build quickly and efficiently in school breaks. Timber is a cost effective, aesthetically pleasing alternative to traditional builds, which helps keep costs down and its sustainability means eligibility for grants can be boosted by choosing it as a main build material. Timber is also incredibly resistant, meaning that nothing should get in the way of your building project in terms of natural elements (whereas brick and cement-based projects would have to be paused if it were to rain or snow, by comparison). For projects with harsh time constraints, then, timber ticks all the boxes. Off-site production means timber builds are rarely stalled and can be delivered to site, constructed relatively quickly and made water-tight in record time. Post project, a timber building will keep on delivering benefits long after its completion. Its insulative properties, for one, are very good as its embodied energy is very low - keeping you warm all winter long in a natural manner, thereby cutting back on your energy usage and bills. Contrary to popular belief, timber is also brilliant in cases of fire: while wood is, of course, a conductor, the properties of timber don’t change in extreme temperatures, and when timber chars from fire it seals the inside structure, keeping the building aloft. Even in the most dramatic conditions, timber stands tall. The department of Civil Engineering at Texas A&M University conducted research at the Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Japan to test a seven-storey timber frame building against man made earth tremors, seeing how well it would perform in an earthquake. They found that timber Timber’s Rising Popularity