Engineered wood products such as LVL make extremely efficient use of the available timber resource as they can be made from fast-growing, less expensive wood species and the by-products of manufacture are used to produce particle board, garden mulch and compost.
The process of manufacturing LVL redistributes and eliminates many of the natural defects found in wood to improve the physical properties of the product; particularly size and strength.
About 50% of the wood's dry weight in a tree is atmospheric carbon. This carbon is retained in the timber products recovered from harvested trees and is stored for at least the product's service life in a building.
The volume of carbon stored is considerable. A cubic metre of seasoned softwood sequesters about 250 kg of atmospheric carbon or about 0.9 tonnes of carbon dioxide. If enough wood is used in a building’s design - and high carbon dioxide emitting materials avoided - the finished building can be a net carbon store.
Timber-rich building designs offer clear benefits over similar solutions assembled from alternative materials - especially non-renewable ones such as concrete and steel which are made with energy-intensive production processes. Timber-rich solutions generally have lower environmental impacts and are easier to build than alternative solutions while delivering similar or enhanced performance.
In addition to being lighter than alternative solutions, timber-rich approaches are generally more versatile in design and easier to change. Wood components are also highly workable and can be easily cut and assembled with precision. They are clean to handle and work.
Timber and wood products used in design and construction can support sustainable development and a low carbon economy.
Timber and wood products, combined with sustainable forestry practices, provide designers and their clients with a significant environmental edge over alternative building materials and fuels as they are natural, renewable and store atmospheric carbon both in the forest and in the building. In contrast to alternative building materials, they also require relatively little energy to make.