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Education, Guide, Timber  |  08 April 2022

Kiss House timber resource guide.

Wood is an incredibly sustainable material suitable for a variety of projects
Current building materials are responsible for 39% of global carbon emissions
Wood can be sustainably farmed and renewable, so would reduce construction’s carbon footprint significantly
Including sustainable materials in the design planning process is crucial
Timber can create interesting pieces for the home. Photo credit. Robert Barnby
We've previously interviewed the designer of this piece, Robert Barnby. Photo credit: Robert Barnby
Our forests are beautiful places to be, but can also produce beautiful places to live in
Timber is an easy material to handle in off-site construction projects
All species of wood have different strengths for a variety of projects
Modern timber frame structures are precision-engineered, strong and durable

We love timber and want to share some fabulous resources on timber in architecture and construction.

Timber is low in embodied carbon, natural, renewable, and amazingly is capable of everything from structural to decorative application in architecture and construction. It has beautiful properties related to its tactility, warmth and its rich variety of hues. It can be sustainably farmed and can absorb more carbon than it produces to reduce construction’s carbon footprint. Moreover, timber requires the lowest energy of almost all common building materials to produce; and is a great insulator, as stated in Dr Joe Gatta’s “Build them Tall” study.

If you needed further persuasion to get on board with timber, it is worth noting that in 2017 the World Green Building Council (WGBC) reported that together “building and construction are responsible for 39% of global carbon emissions, with operational emissions (from energy used to heat, cool and light buildings) accounting for 28%.”

To reduce global C02 specifiers, designers, architects, and builders must seek alternative solutions, change how they operate and the materials they use.

The construction industry has traditionally been slow to innovate lagging behind other industries which has meant a heavy reliance on high embodied carbon petrochemical-based products and materials such as concrete and steel.

See our handy resource guide below.

CALU Tree species selection sheet

A handy fact sheet to help you identify the most suitable sites for specific tree species and how best to grow them. Find the sheet here.

The Centre for Alternative Land Use (CALU) are a partnership with Bangor University (who we have a special affinity with as Bangor is where much of the Kiss House research takes place).

CALU are based in the Henfaes Research and Development Centre at Bangor University where they produce Land Management programmes.

Mission behind the work
Their programmes are government schemes which encourage landowners to manage their land sustainably. They support the UK’s rural economy and the government’s commitment to achieving net zero emissions by 2050.

What you can learn

  • the key things to consider when comes planting trees
  • the impact of a tree on its environment and eco-system
  • the conditions in which tree species will thrive

Related links
Bangor University Ecology facilities

Bangor University Twitter

Bangor University LinkedIn

Bangor University Instagram

Bangor Forestry Instagram

Bangor Forestry Twitter

TRADA Timber Species and Project Suitability Database

If you’re struggling to decide which type of timber would be best for your project, this database is the resource for you! The international organisation — Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA), provide a guide to more than 150 timber species, explaining their properties, strengths, and environmental impact to ensure you choose the best variety for your project. Find the database here.

TRADA are dedicated to inspiring and educating their members on best practice design and the application of wood in the built environment. Their website hosts software, publications and other resources that offer independent guidance to members.

Mission behind the work
TRADA want to educate and encourage greater use of timber to make the construction industry more sustainable. They believe that through education they can promote safe and appropriate uses of timber to make it a leading construction material.

What you can learn
Everything and anything that you might need to know about wood species and their suitability for projects! Listed alphabetically the database is clear and concise, and when you click on a species you can find out:

  • species Latin names and alternative names
  • environmental classification
  • durability
  • treatability
  • moisture movement
  • density
  • availability
  • best use
  • colour
  • distribution status
  • origin tree
  • drying properties
  • strength
  • working qualities

Related links
TRADA Fundamentals of timber webinar series

TRADA LinkedIn

TRADA Twitter

TRADA Facebook

Wood Campus Online Timber Resources Portal

This free, online information portal for DIY, architects, self-builders and trade users of wood, delivers resources which build a better understanding of timber in and out of the home. Access it here.

Wood Campus is the UK timber industry’s free online information portal developed in co-operation a Swedish wood initiative.

The portal hosts a range of interactive design tools and guides, ranging from professional certified CPD courses for architects and designers, to self-build guides for around the home, including iPhone and android smartphone apps!

Wood Campus are part of the timber industry campaign, “Wood CO2ts less;” a petition to the government to encourage more building with wood. They feature educational reports and videos on how using wood can help reduce CO2, as well as an online course.

Mission behind the work
All Wood Campus resources aim to deliver a better understanding of how to correctly use timber in construction, and in turn improve the climate crisis.

Education around timber and the correct way to use it is imperative for the built environment to fully benefit from an increased use of it. Good materials used incorrectly or inefficiently are wasteful, so tools and guides Wood Campus provides are crucial to ensuring we can deliver the best from timber.

What you can learn
Wood Campus is a mine of information. Their interactive design tools and courses allow anyone working with timber, whatever their skill set or career, to educate themselves further on how to get the best from this fantastic material.

As a keen wood DIY’er, my husband found their self-build tutorials for completing projects around the home incredibly helpful, and I hope he will be able to construct a rose trellis soon!

Related links
Wood Campus DIY and self-build tools

Wood Campus Builder and trade information

Wood Campus Architects RIBA CPD courses

The Wood CO2ts less campaign

Wood Campus Twitter

Wood Campus LinkedIn Group

Wood Campus Facebook

The Dezeen Guide to Wood in architecture, interiors, and design

In this beautiful guide, Dezeen share an inspirational list of the most popular types of timber and timber products for home projects requiring timber. Projects range from interior design to architectural creations! Read it here.

Dezeen is an international architecture, interiors, and design magazine. Dezeen began as a blog in 2006 and has since grown into an influential, award-winning, online journal in the architecture and design industry since then. It has over three million monthly readers and six million social media followers, who enjoy regular, carefully collated content focused on the best global architecture, design and interior projects.

Mission behind the work
Dezeen make global architecture, interior, and design accessible to boost creativity and inspire.

What you can learn
The article provides beautiful examples of timber used in home design around the world. It explains the properties so the reader can understand why each is suited to a project, and include links to encourage us to explore other projects.

Related links
Dezeen Twitter

Dezeen Instagram

Dezeen Pinterest

Dezeen YouTube

Dezeen Facebook

Timber Queensland: discover the wonders of wood

A Timber Queensland eight-part webinar series which shares the incredible benefits of wood for people and the planet. There is something for everyone and you can access all eight episodes from this link.

Hyne Timber sponsors the Timber Queensland webinar series. They are one of Australia’s biggest sawn timber producers, and a giant supplier to the Australian construction industry.

Timber Queensland is a non-profit industry association working to increase interest in their native forest and timber industry.

Mission behind the work
Both Hyne Timber and Timber Queensland want to ensure a sustainable future. They believe that timber in construction has the power to improve our climate and the way we live.

They are passionate about educating politicians, environmental groups, and the workforce on the benefits of timber.

What you can learn
The webinars are hosted by experts and professionals who share their knowledge across a wide range of timber related subjects. These include:

  • the benefits of biophilic design
  • timber product and project profiles
  • the transformation of logs to building materials
  • timber durability and protection
  • quality standards and their influence on timber construction
  • material suppliers and manufacturer relationships to design processes
  • how to manage the carbon we create

Related links
Hyne Timber Facebook

Hyne Timber Instagram

Hyne Timber LinkedIn

Hyne Timber website

Timber Queensland website

Timber Queensland LinkedIn

Forestry England

Forestry England has been running for over 100 years, establishing and caring for more land and woodland than any other organisation in the UK. They monitor and support over 1,500 UK forests, which host over 1,800 miles of walking, cycling and running trails and conserve thousands of endangered plants and animal species. They also supply the England’s highest amount of sustainably-sourced timber. Find out more about it here.

Forestry England believe forests enhance people’s quality of life by providing places to enjoy watching wildlife, walking, riding bikes or horses and playing among the trees.  As well as supporting our health, the woodlands make significant contributions to local economies around the country. Forestry England work hard to bring people and communities together through the wonders of the woodlands.

Mission behind the work
Forests are vital for the future of our planet. Forestry England believe that the forests can keep thriving and supporting our health if managed carefully. They are always thinking beyond today, planning and planting forests that will help create a sustainable future not only for us living today, but for future generations.

It is possible to support your local forest by becoming a member today. Membership gives you free parking at any of the woodlands, along with many other great benefits.

What you can learn

  • Handy guides to find your local woodland
  • Experience art displays and exhibitions in the country’s woodlands
  • Walking, cycling and running trails and codes
  • Find out about Forest Live — a major live music series managed by Forestry England held in forests across the country
  • Learn about timber sales and Forestry England’s timber contracts
  • Fun activity packs and informative resources for children

Related links
Forestry England website

Forestry England Facebook

Forestry England Twitter

Forestry England YouTube

Forestry England Instagram

Forestry England newsletter subscription

Forestry England blog page

Confor: Green Recovery infographic

A bright and interactive graphic of the Green Recovery cycle. View it here.

Confor is a non-profit making organisation which promotes sustainable forestry and wood-use on behalf of the private forestry sector. The organisation represents the complete wood supply chain and focusses on establishing a sustainable future.

The mission behind the work
Confor want to provide the sector with a powerful voice and to ensure a sustainable future.

What you can learn
This colourful infographic identifies ways construction workers, foresters, designers, and researchers can improve their interactions with timber and how they all interact to support the green recovery. It suggests:

  • an increase in resource efficiency
  • using wood in construction
  • improving the bioeconomy
  • extending the life of wood products
  • restocking harvested trees
  • planting a wider spectrum of trees
  • breeding more efficient trees

Related links
Our interview with Sarah Virgo — Wood for Good

Confor website

Confor Twitter

Confor LinkedIn

Confor Facebook

Confor YouTube

Stora Enso, TEDX — “Self-extinguishing timber buildings: a climate change solution”

This 2020 TEDx Talk discusses the ways engineers can test and improve timber safety to encourage more architects to use timber as a regular source material. Watch the video here.

The host
Carmen Gorska Putynska is a fire safety engineer at Stora Enso. Her research focuses specifically on timber housing and how to make it fireproof. From 2017-2020, Carmen created many variations of timber house prototypes and set them alight to understand and predict what damage could be done by a real fire and how this could be prevented in the future.

The mission behind the work
As discussed, timber is low in embodied carbon and is highly sustainable. To reduce the carbon emissions created by the construction industry many researchers and developers are keen for architects and designers to start reaching for timber for their construction projects — they wish to remove barriers and gaps in knowledge.

Through her research, Carmen aims to identify how timber can work to become the primary material for architecture and how it can keep buildings and their occupants safe.

What you can learn
In this TEDx Talk, Carmen explains:

  • the impact of buildings and the construction industry on the world’s carbon footprint
  • the benefits of timber in building structures
  • the burning process of timber and the safety checks needed in timber structures
  • the experiments she has completed

Related links
Stora Enso website 

Carmen Gorksa Putynska LinkedIn

Carmen Gorksa Putynska University of Queensland video

BioComposites Centre Wood in Construction in the UK: an Analysis of Carbon Abatement Potential

A report, commissioned by the Committee for Climate Change (2019) and completed by the BioComposites Centre at Bangor University. It seeks to understand the potential reduction in greenhouse gases that could be achieved through increased use of timber in the UK construction industry. It explains the positive impact of timber-frame, as well as engineered wood products like cross-laminated timber. Read it here.

The BioCompsites Centre at Bangor University has been at the forefront of bio-based alternative materials research for over 30 years. They offer regular expertise and technical support to businesses working to improve their sustainability.

As UK government advisors, the Climate Change Committee produce regular reports exploring projects to reduce greenhouse gases and emission targets, plus the best ways to prepare for the impacts of climate change. They analyse studies, and work with a variety of high-profile organisations to deliver informative, accurate and impactful reports to support change.

Mission behind the work
The Climate Change Committee and BioComposites Centre produced this report to help prove the case for timber buildings and close the knowledge gap.

What you can learn
This report provides an interesting insight into the parliamentary advice being issued behind the scenes to fight the climate crisis. In it, you can read about:

  • The thermal capabilities of timber structures
  • the air quality of timber frame buildings
  • engineered wood’s contribution to climate change
  • the potential carbon impact of an increase in timber frame building

Related links
Climate Change Committee Twitter

Climate Change Committee LinkedIn

Bangor University Twitter

Bangor University LinkedIn

Bangor University Instagram

You may recognise some of the above from our list of the industry’s best, permanently available online resources for sustainable construction.

If you haven’t seen our resources list it is a great resources that can be accessed here. We are currently working on a 2022 updated version, so please follow us on our social channels to keep up to date with this.

We hope that you found our timber resource guide helpful.

Best wishes,


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