Designing the future with sustainable timber

Under the theme Designing the Future with Sustainable Timber, we are bringing together a range of stakeholders to promote the use of wood in construction in general and certified wood in particular.

Designing the future with sustainable timber

1 January 2018 Campaign

Across the world, the architecture community is embracing solid and engineered wood to deliver high profile, award winning projects and everyday designs - from houses, schools and hotels to restaurants, theatres, supermarkets and swimming pools.

Under the theme Designing the Future with Sustainable Timber, we have brought together a range of stakeholders to promote the use of wood in construction in general and certified wood in particular.

Why build with wood?

Wood is great for the planet. Wood is THE renewable building material. Compared to concrete, steel, cement and glass, wood requires less energy in production and rather than emitting carbon, it stores it.

International House

Wood in buildings is healthy. Wood has a positive influence on the indoor climate and therefore on the well-being and health of the people who live or work in the building. What's more, wood is an excellent heat and humidity regulator. Walls made of wood breathe; they control the humidity of the surroundings.

Wood allows creative designs. Wood is strong, flexible and attractive, and easy to work, process and finish, making it ideally suited to creative and innovative designs. Every piece of wood has its own particular characteristics, because it is unique in terms of its grain, colour and lines.

Wood enables fast construction. A home made of wood is lighter than one made of conventional materials, so you can have smaller and simpler foundations, which means they are easier to build. Numerous elements manufactured in workshops simply need to be put together on the building site.

Importantly, an increasing number of building projects are now opting for certified timber, and both public authorities and private companies are choosing to work with wood and paper with a sustainable origin.

Make sure it is certified

While wood is a fantastic construction material, there is one vital consideration – is it certified?

PEFC-certified timber, whether it is solid wood or engineered wood such as CLT and glulam, comes from a PEFC-certified forest – a forest managed sustainably in line with strict international requirements.

This means that forest owners manage their forest in a way that provides us with timber and other forest products, while at the same time ensuring that the forest will be around for generations to come.

Certification matters, it not only demonstrates that wood used in construction is sourced sustainably, but that a positive choice has been made to design and build with a future for healthy forests in mind.

PEFC-certified timber and engineered wood products are readily available for construction projects from a wide range of global suppliers. Construction projects can even obtain PEFC Project Chain of Custody certification to demonstrate excellence in responsible sourcing.

Construction and the SDGs

When you think about construction and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), clearly Sustainable Cities and Communities (SDG 11) comes to mind - making cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.

Sustainable wood is the only renewable material on a large scale currently available. Used for centuries, it allows us to meet the housing needs for the growing number of urban dwellers with the lowest environmental footprint possible.

But what about Good Health and Well-being (SGD 3)? Wood in buildings is proven to have a positive impact on health, stress and blood pressure.

Decent Work and Economic Growth (SDG 8), Industry Innovation and Infrastructure (SDG 9), Responsible Consumption and Production (SDG 12): the constrution sector has a role to play in all of these goals, and that’s where PEFC certification can help. Designing with the Future with Sustainable Timber.

PEFC and the World Architecture Festival

In 2022, PEFC sponsored the World Architecture Festival (WAF) Best Use of Certified Timber Prize for the fourth time. This prize awards architects and project teams for using certified timber as the main construction material for buildings outstanding in sustainability, innovation, quality or aesthetics.

2021 World Architecture Festival

In 2021, eight fantastic buildings made the shortlist. While all these buildings have their use of certified timber in common, their style and purpose vary widely: from higher education and research to community spaces and sports facilities, to name only a few.

Shortlisted Candidates Best Use of Certified Timber Prize 2021 11.24 MB

Check out the eight finalists:

During an online session on 30 November, PEFC Deputy CEO Michael Berger revealed Scion Innovation Hub, Te Whare Nui o Tuteata by RTA Studio/Irving Smith Architects as the winner.

Located in New Zealand, Scion Innovation Hub proudly showcases PEFC-certified timber in a unique diagrid structure, requiring less material than traditional mass engineered timber buildings.

2019 World Architecture Festival

In 2019, the eleven finalists included a helical tower, a moving kiosk, a ship-shaped home and much more. 

Shortlisted Candidates Best Use of Certified Timber Prize 2019 1.04 MB

On 6 December 2019, the eleven teams presented their projects to a jury at the WAF in Amsterdam. The winning project was the Pingelly Recreation and Cultural Centre, designed by iredale pedersen hook architects.

PEFC contact

Fabienne Sinclair

Head of Marketing

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