Narrative Box 12

Aren’t we supposed to be saving trees?
Yes. The whole calculation of embodied energy and sequestration relative to mass timber — which some scientists question — depends on preserving old growth forests and responsible forest management. It is critical that designers specify only salvaged wood or wood certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) in mass timber projects. This means the products come from forests that are managed to reduce habitat destruction and optimize growing period, then sustainably harvested and replanted as part of a larger strategy of carbon sequestration.  

The most important aspect of sustainability in terms of mass timber is its embodied energy. According to Wood for Good, an organization that advocates for sustainable wood construction, concrete requires five times the amount of energy to go from raw material to finished product, while steel requires 24 times the amount of energy. Then there’s the fact that wood sequesters carbon, unlike its concrete and steel counterparts, which introduce more carbon into the atmosphere. And, because wood is a good insulator, less energy is needed to heat and cool wood buildings.