Advocating for Healthy and Sustainable Natural Wood:
In our modern world with its bewildering array of artificial products, wood is the real thing.
We believe that words like green, sustainable and healthy have honest meaning beyond marketing. If properly managed wood is the ultimate healthy and sustainable building material.
Indeed one of the core tenets of our Company Mission is to take whole-hearted steps to conserve our planet by doing everything as sustainably as we possibly can. We know there may be times when we don’t get it right, when we do things that are not as sustainable as they could be, but we do it with conscience and full awareness that it’s not ideal.
We asked owner of International Timberframes, Sigi, how sustainability is considered throughout the company operations, every day.
“Sustainability is a buzz word used now by many companies to help market and sell products. Society as a whole is becoming more and more in tune with what it means and how important it is. I believe that the building industry, and we certainly are a small part of this industry, is immensely wasteful.”
“We have a huge responsibility to future generations to reduce the amount of physical waste produced and to challenge mindless consumption. We can do this by creating sustainable products. I don’t mean we just design and produce our products with the environment in mind, although this is important. We take into account where our raw materials come from, how we work on the wood, how we use waste and offcuts, and how the products will affect everyone who lives with the products for days, months, years and generations to come.”
“It is as much about the social as the environmental implications. It is very hard to make something 100% sustainable and sustainably, but thinking about it, trying to does make a significant impact.”
Trade-offs are inevitable
“Despite being located in a timber producing part of the world, ironically it can be less expensive to import wood from Europe. With much larger volumes being produced their economies of scale and intense competition mean lower prices are usually possible, particularly on things like mass timber. However, is this sustainable?”
“Where the only difference in product is price then in this instance we would choose to buy locally, hoping the client understands what they are contributing to in the local economy of the supplier. Where the product is unique and environmentally superior, then we may consider importing.”
“Let me give you a very real example. We are strong advocates of 100% wood recyclable building materials. Unfortunately it’s just not produced in Canada in huge volume. We produce Wood100, a 100% wood stacked DLT product, but for huge structural CLT wall and roof panels, buying from Europe is the only option.”
“We choose a 100% wood 100% reusable and recyclable cradle to cradle imported CLT product over a nailed or glued non-reusable, non-recyclable CLT produced in Canada. Especially when the factory in which it is produced is carbon neutral and produces power to fuel the local community. Of course as the CLT market grows we hope it’ll become economically viable for us to locally produce a genuinely sustainable 100% wood CLT.”
We are often asked about glulam instead of solid timber frame for beams and posts. In an ideal world (but we don’t live there do we?) we would never advocate for glulam. We don’t believe you need to resort to the use of glues and adhesives (which can be toxic in the home as off-gassing occurs) when working with wood. On occasion our crew have suffered headaches, nausea and light-headedness when cutting and working with glulam beams.
The use of glue to laminate layers of wood makes that wood totally un-recyclable. Again there is sometimes a trade-off to be made. If it’s impossible to find old growth wood that would permit a free of heart 10’”x10” x 30’ beam then we may have to resort to a glulam alternative.
Even considerations which seem much smaller day to day are things we always think about: packaging for example. In that ideal world we don’t live in, we would be able to buy a non-plastic based, infinitely durable wrapping material that we would pack our materials in before shipping to job-site for raising.
Fruitless hours have been spent searching for packing/wrapping material that keeps the wood protected during transportation especially on winter highways, one that we can use over and over again – if we’ve missed something please get in touch!
So we do use a plastic based wrapping product / tarp, but we do not dispose of it. It gets brought back to the shop, cleaned and reused for as long as it looks presentable and does the job!
We create products that will be cherished, enjoyed and loved and feel strongly that in our disposable culture longevity is the basis for sustainability. In an ideal world, sustainability is a by-product of good design. Running a business in a sustainable way should naturally be sound business practice.
We genuinely do try to do the right thing, for the client, for the planet and for the tree, every minute of every day.