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Replace other materials with wood

Using wood as a building material is climate-friendly and sustainable.

Wood products are unique. They come from a natural, renewable, sustainable resource. The carbon they contain remains stored for the duration of the product’s lifetime, until it decays, or is burnt. The longer the wood product is used, the longer the period of time the carbon is stored within it. A global increase in the use of industrial wood products would increase the amount of carbon stored.

Movie: Using timber - CO2 savings

When it comes to constructing homes and buildings, wood has the lowest energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions of any commonly used building material. Replacing one cubic metre of concrete or red brick with the same volume of timber can save around one tonne of carbon dioxide. And as well as being climate friendly and sustainable, wood is a good insulator, so we can also reduce our energy needs. Designing future buildings to use more wood instead of concrete, plastic and steel could result in a significant drop in greenhouse gas emissions.

We can help reduce CO2 emissions by choosing sustainably produced wood and paper products. Sustainably produced wood and paper store carbon throughout the product’s lifecycle, replacing sustainably produced wood and paper for products whose manufacture is associated with higher levels of CO2 emission. We can recover the energy stored in wood residues and end-of-life wood products by using them as a fossil fuel substitute.

Key facts:

  • on average building a house in timber instead of brick reduces carbon emissions by ten tonnes 

  • replacing one cubic metre of concrete or red brick with the same volume of timber can save about a tonne of carbon dioxide emissions

  • over 90 per cent of the wood used in Europe comes from other European countries

  • only 2 per cent of the softwood used in Europe is imported from outside Europe

  • 40 per cent of the sawn hardwood used in Europe comes from outside Europe. Some of this comes from certified sources but the rest is questionable 

Key messages:

  • choosing wood over other building materials saves CO2

Last updated: 18th December 2014

What's of interest

wood for good
Timber from sustainably managed forests is one of the most environmentally friendly materials available. For more information on the environmental credentials of wood visit the wood. for good website


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