If you’ve followed us for awhile then you’re probably familiar with us using the term ‘carbon negative’ to describe our Solid Timber range of homes. In case you haven’t, what it means is that on completion, a home from our Solid Timber range has actually reduced the amount of carbon in the atmosphere – like ‘carbon-zero’, and then some. Which is pretty incredible considering that the average residential home in New Zealand, made with conventional materials and cladding emits more carbon into the atmosphere than a petrol car driven more than a million kilometres. BRANZ have released some confronting research and publications on the construction industry’s contribution to carbon emissions, some of which you can find here if you want to know more.
That sustainably grown timber sequesters (soaks up and stores) carbon from the atmosphere is the main factor in the carbon negative equation of our Solid Timber homes. But another biggie is they simply produce so much less waste during construction than a conventional home. There are two simple reasons for this reduction in waste:
1. Fewer materials. Less packaging and landfill.
About eight tonnes less waste, which invariably ends up in landfill. A typical Solid Timber home of ours produces 1-2 skips from start to finish – and even that’s more than ideal which is why we’re working on several initiatives presently to reduce our waste even further. But what is often just a single skip pales when compared with the 5 (or more) skips of waste produced during the construction of a conventional home in New Zealand. Each skip weighs roughly 2 tonnes when full, so one of our Solid Timber homes produces 2-4 tonnes of landfill, while a conventional home will produce 10 tonnes or more. And what sort of waste is it being produced during construction of these conventional homes? It’s plastic wrapping, nails, unused batts, spent gas canisters from nail guns, empty tape rolls, cladding offcuts, and who knows what else..
Our Solid Timber homes don’t use nails, nor most of the things used in building a conventional home. And yet they’re about the most sturdy, structurally sound and durable homes available on the market in New Zealand.
The benefits of building ‘simple’ with 1 core material don’t end with the build itself – they extend to the entire life of the home. That’s because Solid Timber homes are far easier to maintain than their conventional counterparts. No need to repaint the interior every few years as in a conventional, plasterboard home for instance, nor patch up the holes and dents of your plasterboard walls. And because timber ‘breathes’ which regulates the humidity in a home, it prevents damage from moisture which is a costly and disruptive thing to repair. Far fewer materials, but higher quality ones. Less is more, in other words. Spend your summers road tripping New Zealand instead of doing home maintenance.
2. Less fossil fueled transport.
With our Solid Timber homes the internal walls are the external walls, and much of the insulation too. One material: timber. Delivery of the shell therefore means delivering the internal and external walls at the same time, and while individual deliveries are still required for other parts of the home – like the roof and windows – there are typically 8 fewer deliveries to a building site required on a Solid Timber build than a conventional home. That’s hundreds – if not thousands – fewer kilometres on the road which means less carbon emitted into the atmosphere by diesel/petrol fueled delivery trucks.
Solid Timber homes are also far simpler to assemble than conventional homes. Which means fewer people required to build them. And fewer people means fewer cars driving to and from the building site each day, fewer trips to the shops and cafes at lunchtime to grab a sandwich and coffee.
Being diligent with your home recycling, avoiding the use of plastic bags, choosing products with biodegradable packaging – these are all positive everyday personal choices you can make to minimise your carbon footprint. But if you are in the market for a new home and want to do one thing which will make a far greater impact than several decades worth of these everyday choices combined, consider building with locally grown New Zealand timber instead of man-made, synthetic materials.