The Recycled Interiors Podcast 003: Make it Wood with Planet Ark

Welcome to episode 3 of the Recycled Interiors Podcast. In this episode I chat with David Rowlinson from Planet Ark. David hails from Lancashire, England and has lived in Australia since 1994. He has a bachelor of Architecture from Sheffield University and also has an MBA from Macquarie University and a Master of Marketing from UNSW. Prior to joining Planet Ark in January this year David was Marketing Manager then CEO of a major Sydney-based manufacturer of modular carpets used in all commercial building applications. He is married with a seventeen year old daughter, and loves to get out on his bike as often as he can.
Planet Ark was established in 1992 with the major objectives to encourage a low carbon lifestyle, promote sustainable resources, and to help bring us back to nature. Five years ago the Make It Wood programme was launched, to encourage the increased use of responsibly sourced wood as a building material.
The two main ways of wood being certified in Australia are:

  • FSC – Forest Stewardship Council
  • AFS (or PEFC) – Australian Forest Stewardship

They provide independent third party auditing and assessment of the timber that goes into a building or a piece of furniture. Planet Ark is based around positive environmental actions for everybody and all the positive things we can do, rather than looking at the negative aspects of what is too difficult to fix.
[bctt tweet=”timber makes us happier, healthier & is better for the environment #makeitwood” username=”helen_creates”]

Links mentioned in the show

Planet Ark
Make it Wood
Housing, Health and Humanity Report
FWPA – Wood Naturally Better

Things you will want to remember from the show

  • There are lots of small steps you can take to make a difference! Think about the positive steps rather than the things you feel overwhelmed by
  • Wood provides major benefits to our lives – both environmental and health wise
  • The environmental perspective is the major focus of Planet Ark and the benefits are:

1) timber is the only renewable building material we have, trees can and are replanted continuously, it is the only solar powered building material we have! It is ultimately renewable

2) Timber stores carbon – it provides carbon storage for life – for every kilo of timber, it has breathed in 1.47 kilos of Co2, it emits about a kilo of oxygen and 50% of the dry weight of timber is carbon. Whether this is in furniture or building or whatever, it is stored forever unless it is burned

3) Compared to more mainstream materials, timber has a very low embodied energy. All the energy in the sourcing, production, distribution, installation etc is a small fraction of the energy that goes into other materials like concrete and steel

  • Buying locally made timber furniture, made from certified timber, is a fantastic step you can take. You should actively request information about the source of your timber, and see if it is certified by one of the above organisations. You may not always know, but the majority of timber is certified in Australia. Most of the major plantations and mills have now also adopted certification processes
  • The type of climate the timber is going into is important. Timber treatments and the right product in the right application should be considered
  • If we converted a cubic metre of masonry or concrete steel into a cubic metre of timber, we would save a tonne of Co2 from the atmosphere
  • 23% of Australia’s greenhouse gas emissions comes from building materials – timber has a big part to play in reducing that
  • Timber has been the most commonly used product in building for decades. For the first time in Australia we have a shift from single dwellings to multi level apartment type buildings, and these can now be made totally from timber
  • Engineered timbers are going to have a major part to play in that – this takes plantation grown softwood and glues smaller pieces together, there are things like cross laminated timber (or plywood on steroids) for use in floors, walls etc; there is laminated veneer lumber used for beams and columns (LVL) which can be bent under heat. These are currently mostly used in highrise construction
  • Timber is a fifth of the weight of concrete and steel, but extremely strong. Construction of apartments, hotels and offices is now allowed up to 8 storeys!
  • The tallest highrise building until recently was the Forte Building in Melbourne, but this has been superseded by a building in Norway which is 35 metres tall, and one is in construction in Canada which will be 53 metres tall!!
  • Safety – timber has it’s own in built resistance to fire in that it chars on the outside and slows down the burning process. The engineered timbers are built to be strong to support large buildings so this means they are predictable in the way they will respond to fire. This makes them safer when it comes to flammability – as they burn in a slow predictable way that allows people to exit the building more safely in a fire
  • Timber can be treated for termites depending on where you are living the requirements vary
  • In terms of cost, timber buildings are typically cheaper than conventional construction when it comes to the commercial high rise buildings, as it is much faster. They can install literally a floor a week. It is typically 20 – 25% quicker to build
  • Benefits of having timber in your indoor environment include:
    • it is beautiful, warm and cosy
    • exposure to wooden furniture has real and measurable health and wellbeing benefits
    • there are positive physiological and psychological effects of mimicking spending time in nature
    • we have a challenge in our lives due to spending up to 90% of our time inside, which leads to a disconnect with nature. Having timber in our indoor environments, views out to nature and elements of organic materials in our homes, schools and workplaces, increases our health, wellbeing, recovery from illness, reduced stress, increases social connections and more
    • Wood is hydroscopic – it absorbs moisture which means in a situation where you have timber in a house, apartment or office, on a humid day the timber will help to absorb the moisture and reduce the humidity and in a dry environment such as an air conditioned space, it emits moisture and helps to balance the environment – it breathes!
    • Wood is very heat resistant – think about cooking with a wooden spoon compared to a metal spoon in a hot sauce – this also occurs in buildings. Timber in the walls will help retain heat in winter, and will help to keep the house cooler in summer. You need the timber to be visible to enjoy the benefits

Biophilic design is what it is all about – this means ‘love of life’, or ‘living systems’ and is all about design that incorporates natural elements, it brings us closer to nature. Feel happier, be more productive and enjoy life more. Make sure to add plenty of timber in your life and reap the benefits.
I hope you enjoyed this episode, you might also like to listen to episode 2, with the New Joneses, if you have not caught up with that.
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