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Enduring building design

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Bushfires and drought ravaged our country last year, so how can we curb the increasing impacts of climate change and build sustainable and enduring homes? The answer might be closer than you think.

Liz Barrett

Senior Content Producer
Australia is renowned for extreme weather, from the rugged coastline and often fire-ravaged bushland to our drought covered terrain. But as our climate changes, more than ever, we are experiencing 'four seasons in one day, and this elemental shift only seems to be happening more frequently.

We all have an environmental responsibility to do what we can to curb the shift in temperature change and try to repair the damage we have done, but especially for us in building and construction. Our industry is creating more waste than any other in Australia, a whopping 18.2 million tonnes of it each year.

Climate awareness has created another change for our industry. Environmentally conscious consumers are on the rise, and the demand for green buildings is growing. All this may leave you feeling like change is a daunting task, and you wouldn't be alone. But by taking small and manageable steps can make a significant difference.

In fact, it can be as easy as selecting renewable, sustainable and energy-efficient materials for your projects. But before you rush out to investigate the very latest in ecological materials, there is likely one you know well, timber.

As a tree grows, it absorbs, stores and retains carbon, a valuable chemical element. This carbon is retained throughout the timber manufacturing process and remains locked in the wood for the product's life.

When timber is harvested for today, new trees are planted in its place for tomorrow; this contributes to reducing emissions and positively addressing climate change.

As far as performance goes, timber is a lightweight material that also provides natural insulation, creating a barrier between heat and cold. And while it may be combustible - during a fire, it burns in a slow, predictable and measurable way compared to other materials. Timber is non-toxic, safe to handle, and ages naturally. Best of all, it can be recycled too!

At present, the combination of bushfire, drought, and the pandemic has caused frustration in the shortage of timber supplies in some cities and states. But there is good news. 'The output from Australian mills is increasing, and as we head into the second half of 2021, there will be sufficient supply to meet the enormous volume of homes about to commence construction.' Tells HIA Economist, Tim Reardon.

Despite these short-term delays, there are so many benefits to using timber for building and construction. The most important is that timber is a greenhouse positive product. Timber has often been seen in the past purely as a material for structural framing. But make no mistake, timber is the ultimate natural, sustainable and renewable material.

To find out more about the benefits of timber, visit www.woodsolutions.com.au