Forest Facts:Wood is the Winner!!

I was researching wood articles and thought it was very interesting. There has been a debate ongoing about wood and composite materials and I thought this was a good argument in favor of wood. I found it on W.G.Joinery company of the UK .

WHY CHOOSE WOOD The Truth About Wood it's popularity keeps growing By Sandy Grey

As CEO of a leading wood blind and shutter components manufacturing company, I am frequently asked if we are running out of wood. I am always pleased and proud to answer this question because in contrast to what is portrayed in the mass media, we in America's wood products industries have a very good story to tell. It is important for everyone to know the facts so we can wisely use wood, our most abundant renewable resource.

The truth is that America's forests in many ways are in better shape today than they have been at any time this century. Often when the word "wood" is mentioned, immediate concern is raised that our forests are disappearing. Much of this concern is a result of widespread reporting on the significant deforestation of tropical rain forests and the resulting implications for the entire planet. It is, however, a mistake to apply this fear to our North American forests.
Following are some U.S. forest facts:
Net forest growth today in the United States exceeds harvest by 37 percent.
In the United States, a combination of improved forest management, increased fire protection and advances in wood use has allowed forest growth to surpass removals, even as harvest volume has increased.
The forests of the United States now contain 170 million cubic feet more volume than they did just 40 years ago. The increase is equal to 10 years of average annual use.
Hardwood net growing volume in the United States increased 82 percent between 1952 and 1992.

The vast majority of wood used for wood window blinds and shutters is basswood and poplar, both domestic hardwood species. The reasons for their dominance in the wood window coverings industry is their stability and light weight. To a lesser degree other domestic species, such as cedar, aspen and cottonwood are used. Additionally, ramin, a tropical rain forest specie, is being imported from Indonesia.
The statistics for average annual growth and removal of basswood and poplar in the U.S. forests tell a good story indeed. It is fair to say that poplar is growing more than twice as fast as it is being cut and basswood is growing more than three times as fast as it is being harvested!
Recently, window covering products made from various forms of plastics have been marketed as environmentally sensitive alternatives to wood slats and louvers.
While plastic alternatives have a place in the window coverings industry (in high-moisture environments and as low cost alternatives), marketing them as environmentally friendly is misleading.

To begin with, besides cotton, wood is the only renewable resource used in the window covering industry. Plastics and synthetic fibers are all petroleum based and aluminum is mined from fixed reserves in the ground. Once all the petroleum and minerals for aluminum are used up, there won't be any more. Contrast this scenario with wood - not only is there more wood fiber growing every day, there's more growing even after subtracting the amount harvested!

Additionally, the production of wood is far more energy efficient than the production of any other raw material resource. Although wood accounts for 17 percent of all primary industrial raw material consumed in the United States. Solid wood manufacturing processes for lumber and plywood consume only four percent of all energy consumed in the manufacture of primary raw materials.
The greater energy efficiency of the production of wood means less carbon dioxide emissions(the primary gas contributing to the "greenhouse effect") into the global atmosphere.
In summary, not only does wood uniquely bring natural warmth and charismatic beauty to all interiors, it (wood)is the most environmentally beneficial material for use in window coverings. Rather than promoting the use of non-renewable wood substitutes, our industry should be looking for more ways to use wood, the extraordinary resource that is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. Sandy Gray is CEO of American Hardwood Co., Gardena, California

Following some research W.G. Joinery of Caistor, Lincolnshire, have located the following information confirming the reasons why choosing timber is environmentally friendly.

"it's no longer a question of if PVC should be phased out, but how it shall be phased out." Anna Lindh, Swedish Minister for the Environment, Nov 1995.

Greenpeace is writing to ask you to specify alternatives to PVC in the buildings that you are working on. We are sending you a copy of our Building the Future. (Please request your copy from Greenpeace.) A guide to building without PVC which explains the serious environmental and fire safety concerns about PVC and brings together for the first time all the information about the institutions phasing out PVC and the alternatives available.
In the UK, the Fire Brigade Union, has expressed its concerns about the safety of PVC building materials such as cables and flooring in the event of a fire. if you want more information on the environmental problems caused by PVC, call us on 01771 865 8228.

Sarah Burton .
Campaign Director
Extract from a report compiled by The Fire Brigades Union issued to the building industry.

As a result of evidence presented to us by Greenpeace, the FBU is now particularly concerned about the safety of PVC based building materials, that are used in the construction and fitting out of buildings, when involved in fire.
Whilst we readily acknowledge that other plastic types when involved in fire may also pose serious dangers to human life and building structures, there now exists a substantial body of evidence which shows that the combustion of PVC (as an organochlorine product) in a fire leads to the release of dioxins and furans which may then be spread over a wide area by the smoke plume from the fire.
Dioxins are one of the most toxic chemicals known. They have been linked to human immune system problems and cancer. Dioxin is also a potent hormone disrupter. It is the ability of PVC when involved in a fire situation to produce these substances, which concerns us. In the UK we have tended to view fires as a short term problem with little or no long term environmental impact, or threat to human well being. However, the evidence that Greenpeace have amassed leads us to believe that in the case of fires involving PVC in any quantity, this may no longer be the case.

Ken Cameron
General Secretary
Forest Facts:Timber is the Winner!!

Timber is our only renewable building material, however the production of UPVC, aluminium, steel and concrete involves the use of finite resources.
The processing of these materials uses vast quantities of fossil fuels producing carbon dioxide etc.
The Environmental Risk Assessment Unit at the University of East Anglia, which looks at the environmental costs of materials admits: "Timber harvesting in comparison has very few environmental costs and doesn't leave gaping holes in the ground". Furthermore, timber extraction is beneficial to the environment. Planting trees for timber harvesting actually helps to reduce the greenhouse effect. After an area has been logged, seedlings are planted which absorb carbon dioxide and expel oxygen in their growing process.
To grow a tonne of wood it has been calculated that a tree uses 55 kilos of carbon dioxide - the 'Greenhouse gas' and gives off 40 kilos of oxygen. In one year an average tree consumes 9.1 kilos of carbon dioxide - the amount emitted by a car during an 11,500 mile trip - and exhales enough oxygen to keep a family of four breathing for a year.
Because this process only takes place to any large extent in growing trees, maintaining large 'over mature' forests - which is what many environmentalists campaign for - is not so environmentally beneficial.
There is a lot of concern about the amount of CO 2 (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere but, if we were all to use more timber, more trees would be planted and more carbon would be soaked up. Authorities have said that the Greenhouse effect would be lessened if we all built timber houses. (T.T.J. 4/92).


The net annual increase in the amount of standing timber in Sweden and Finland is 23 million hectares.

One third of the United States is now forest - they are growing twice as much hardwood as is being used! Every day federal or state agencies plant over six million trees! There is global re-growth of timber.

A double glazed timber window is nearly 10% more energy efficient than the same window made of PVC-U and over 15% more energy efficient than an aluminium window. A timber window with bottom ventilated beads etc. is as maintenance free as its synthetic competitors. BE GREEN USE TIMBER

From Why Wood to American Architecture