TG Escapes Blog

The benefits of building with timber

Jun 9, 2022 | Blog, General

Timber is the oldest and most sustainable building material ever known. Not only does its use have significantly less environmental impact than steel or concrete, it has other properties which bring additional benefits to those using a building day in day out.

Timber is the only construction material that is truly sustainable. 97% of timber used in Europe is registered under the FSC and PEFC schemes resulting in the European forested area increasing by 30%.
Timber uses far less energy to harvest and manufacture (-676kg/Co2e/m3)
Timber is not only a carbon sink (Sun, Water, Carbon) it releases Oxygen and improves air quality during its 60 year life cycle.
Timber weighs 20% the dead weight of concrete and 6% the dead weight of Steel

According to the Athena Calculator, wood outperforms concrete and steel on a number of environmental measures;
Versus timber, concrete causes +470% more water pollution, 150% more fossil fuel consumption and 240% more smog potential. Steel causes 300% more water pollution, 140% more fossil fuel consumption and 120% more smog potential.

So on environmental considerations alone, a timber frame building solution is a good choice. However, when constructed well a modular timber frame system can also produce a building which is net-zero carbon in use and one that looks and feels much warmer than alternatives.

Weitzer Parkett, ProHolz Austria and partners undertook a research project called ‘School Without Stress’ where the idea was to try to scientifically demonstrate the advantages of using timber within a classroom and its long term benefits to students who study within them.  They found that on average children in a timber classroom had 8600 fewer heartbeats per day than those in a traditional building.

At TG Escapes we build using a timber frame. We combine the use of natural materials with floor to ceiling windows and glass doors, and covered decking areas for easy access to the outdoors. This enhances well-being and educational outcomes.

A study by A Sigman shows that children exposed to nature;

  • scored higher on concentration and self-discipline
  • improved awareness, reasoning and observational skills
  • better reading, writing, maths, science & social studies
  • were better at working in teams
  • showed improved behaviour overall.

We conduct regular research amongst customers in education to understand how our timber frame buildings perform as classrooms, SEND spaces, studios, early years settings and more. The feedback shows that these ‘natural’ buildings provide spaces which feel very different to other types of buildings.

“Giving the children a new setting to learn in has had a big impact on their motivation. Working amongst natural surroundings has enhanced imagination and creativity.

"Talking to the pupils about the eco-friendly features has been a great way to teach them about sustainability and the environment. ” Headteacher

"The environment seems settled and calm. Children able to focus on learning. Very positive impact on staff wellbeing.” Headteacher

“Both children and staff have really enjoyed working in this lovely new classroom, with easy access to the outdoors for play. A welcome bonus is that we have saved significantly on energy costs!” Headteacher

Using natural materials such as timber can enhance the biophilic properties of a building you can read more about Biophilic Design here.

We have produced a free to use CPD module with Building Magazine - Specifying Timber to Target Net-Zero.

About the author

Mark Brown
Consultant at TG Escapes - Mark has spent time growing up with the army, studying computing before the internet existed, and founding The London Classic Theatre Company, self sustaining for over 25 years. He trained in marketing with Unilever before moving into advertising as a strategist with Leo Burnett, Creative Director at Starcom and founder of award winning creative agency Weapon7. He has a passion for eco buildings and helps run the social enterprise Street Wisdom, providing free creative walkshops around the world.

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