Wood for Good!

Most people agree that wood is beautiful, versatile, and it's got a unique character. People feel good around natural materials such as wood because it improves the room’s climate, it feels warm, cozy and welcoming. However, the deforestation of the woods around the world that has been happening uncontrollably in the past century has brought many concerns about the use of wood. For us designers it is very important to know about what makes wood sustainable and why it is good to use it.

Many people are not sure about the impact of the use of wood in the environment. They still think wood is greener than other processed materials such as plastic, aluminum or concrete, but they are not sure whether or not it affects climate change. According to a survey conducted by The European Forest Communicators Network[1], Europeans still think European forests are diminishing, and that cutting trees makes climate change worse, even if they are replanted.

However, this belief has been rejected by the scientific community. There are plenty of recent studies showing that the use of wood saves energy. When we talk about renewable energy, we often think of wind, solar and hydropower energy, but using wood is in fact another way to be environmentally friendly. Wood and CO2 are natural partners. Trees absorb CO2 as they grow, and they won’t release it until they die and decompose. There are two implications to be made from this: the more trees we plant, the more CO2is to be absorbed, and cutting trees down before they decompose removes CO2 gases from the atmosphere[2]. Regarding the use of wood in buildings, architect Michael Green brings an interesting point about making skyscrapers out of wood. For the last century, tall buildings have been built out of steel and concrete, but the green house gas emissions of these materials are huge. 3% of world’s energy goes into the making of steel and 5% goes into the making of concrete. While most people think of transportation as the main source of CO2 emissions, construction is actually the top releaser of CO2, with 47% of the total emissions[3].

Another reason to use wood is its sustainability when well managed. Since 1990 there have been plenty of movements to save the forests and make the use of wood sustainable. The solution to deforestation is not stop using wood and start using processed materials, but using it responsibly to ensure its reforestation.

As furniture designers and makers, we continue to learn and keep up to date about renewable varieties of wood, and where they all come from. We believe that furniture made out of solid wood is a treasure to keep for good.

 

[1] VV.AA: Europeans and Wood. What Do Europeans Think about Wood and Its Uses? A Review of Consumer and Business Surveys in Europe. Ministerial Conference on the Protection of Forests in Europe, 2007

[2] Wood for Good. Challenge your perceptions. www.woodforgood.com/why-choose-wood

[3] Michael Green: Why We Should Build Wooden Skyscrapers. TED Talks, 2013. www.ted.com/talks/michael_green_why_we_should_build_wooden_skyscrapers.htm