Wood is the only major building material that is renewable—a reason why Canada’s forest base is still abundant after 150 years of harvesting. For every Western Red Cedar that’s harvested, at least 3 are planted. Lumber producers have been replacing harvested trees so diligently over the last few decades that North American forests have actually grown by 20% since 1970.
Wood is durable, allowing it to last for a very long time. Churches in Norway and temples in Japan have lasted over a thousand years. In North America, there are many examples of historic wood buildings from the 16th century that are still standing. Even the foundation of the Empire State Building rests on wood piles. In fact, wood not only lasts, but there are many examples of new buildings that have used wood reclaimed from decommissioned buildings. This is the ultimate in reducing the consumption of materials, as there are very few building materials that are reused in this way when a building decommissioned.
Wood products require much less energy to produce than composites, concrete or steel – that’s according to an independent study that compared how much energy is needed to obtain, manufacture, transport and install building materials for identical wood frame, steel frame and concrete houses. These findings prove, once and for all, that wood is environmentally superior to alternative materials. And on top of that, wood has naturally occurring thermal properties. It conducts heat and insulates better than steel and concrete, so it saves even more energy (not to mention money) when it comes to heating and cooling homes.
Cedar, along with other wood products, has the lowest impact of all building materials on air and water quality. For starters, the manufacturing of wood products produces far fewer toxins and greenhouse gases than the leading man-made materials. But it gets better than that; the regeneration of forests after harvest creates new trees, which take in carbon dioxide and release oxygen as they grow. That’s great news for the environment.
Man-made materials—including brick, cement and composite products—don’t break down like wood does once it’s discarded.
Western Red Cedar is green by nature, but certification is a bonus for consumers looking for an added assurance. More than 85 percent of timberland in British Columbia, Canada—where most western red cedar comes from—is certified by internationally recognized, independent forest certification agencies.