Research by a lecturer of Royal University of Bhutan suggests replacing imported construction materials with timber.
Over the years, timber use as the main construction material decline due to susceptibility to fire and durability issues compared with the strength and easy availability of modern-day materials.
However, new timber building products are emerging in the market. These new-engineered wood products are stretching the boundaries of timber design and enabling a new era in the construction of timber buildings.
The new-engineered wood products include laminated timbers, adhesives and carbon fiber reinforced wood among others. The product offers increased dimensional stability, more homogeneous mechanical properties and greater durability and resistance to fire.
The research titled “Building with nature’s footprint – emerging trends in the use of timber as a structural material” says that given the pressure on climate, environment and rapidly depleting resources due to the housing sector’s heavy reliance on concrete, steel and other industrial products, the potential of timber as an alternate to these materials could be explored.
The paper presents timber as an alternative to the imported materials in terms of low cost (about 20 percent cheaper), faster construction time (about 30percent quicker), and reduced or eliminated carbon emissions.
A total of 332,500MT of cement and 65,000MT of steel reinforcement bar is consumed annually on average by the housing sector.
The housing sector relies heavily on concrete, steel, and other industrial products, which is responsible for nearly 40 percent of the global resource and energy consumption, greenhouse gas emission, and solid waste generation.
Studies found that a cubic meter of wood sequesters one tonne of carbon dioxide.
There are around 0.8 billion trees in the country of various species within the 71percent of geographical area under forest cover. Tshewang Nidup said that the figure could provide a good starting point to explore the potential of timber as a viable construction material in Bhutan.
He said that the 11 percent excess of the minimum 60 percent forest coverage as mandated by the Constitution was estimated to have a total of 34,870,240 cubic meter woods from the seven most abundant species.
“Even with 50percent wastage in conversion of the raw timber into sized usable wood products, the 11percent excess from the seven species will yield around 17,435,120 cubic meter timber available for construction,” he said.
Furthermore, he said that the promotion of timber as a construction material must be underpinned by sourcing timber responsibly.