A well managed timber source is arguably the most environmentally friendly building product available.


Sustainability – Harvesting and Regeneration

A well managed timber source is arguably the most environmentally friendly building product available. On a holistic level, our Victorian Ash is one of the best once you include carbon sequestration, life cycle analysis, harvesting and regeneration. Here are some of the facts.

  • 100% of our timber is sourced from regrowth forests.
  • 100% is regrown.
  • Before harvesting, all flora, fauna, silvicultural, historical and cultural aspects are surveyed, plotted and allowed for. Source.
  • The harvesting process is scientifically designed to mimic natural growth pattern of Victorian Ash species to ensure regeneration occurs within an organic cycle. Source.
  • Less than 0.05% of the forest area is harvested each year on an 80 year rotation.  (Yes, that decimal point is in the right place). It is then regenerated. Source.
  • Only 6% of Victoria’s total forest area is both suitable and allocated for harvesting and regeneration on an 80 year cycle. These areas are scattered throughout the state to minimize and spread impact. 70% of the Victorian ash forests are in National Parks and reserves. Source.
  • The seed mix of each harvest is collected and re-planted in place of harvest to maintain diversity. Source.
  • Around 200,000 seeds are sown per hectare during aerial seeding. Source.
  • 100% of each log we receive is used. Eg Off-cuts are finger jointed to make structural timber and sawdust used as a green energy solution to power our kilns. Source.
  • Up to 50% of the weight of kiln dried Victorian Ash is actually stored carbon (320kg per cubic metre approximately). This is far more helpful for life-cycle assessment and embodied energy considerations than other building materials or soft woods. Source.
  • We are proudly third party audited for Australian Forest Standard (AFS), the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification Schemes (PEFC), the Environmental Management System ISO14001. Source. You can view ASH’s Environmental Policy here.

Sustainability – Why Use Wood?

When we choose sustainably and responsibly harvested timber over other materials, we reduce our dependence on fossil fuels and their consequent carbon emissions. Aluminium, steel, concrete & plastic are not produced from renewable sources. Timber is sustainable, carbon sequestering and natural. It can be used to increase a buildings ‘life cycle assessment’, has minimal embodied energy (the finished product actually stores carbon) and the ability to change appearance by re painting/staining as trends change. – There is no better product!

Timber is recyclable, biodegradable, insulating and hypoallergenic. Plus it will bring a feeling of comfort and warmth to your project. The by-products can be used for carbon neutral energy sources or fertilizers and (providing that we replace what we harvest) is the only truly sustainable building material we have.

Of course, many of these environmental factors are well known, but here is some practical information you may not be aware of.

  • Sustainable timber helps beat climate change. According to the IPCC, “a sustainable forest management strategy aimed at maintaining or increasing forest carbon stocks, while producing an annual sustained yield of timber, fibre or energy from the forest, will generate the largest sustained mitigation benefit“. Source.
  • Swapping timber for concrete and steel in construction (whether large or small buildings) will greatly reduce carbon emissions caused by the building industry – Source.
  • When constructing a window, choosing timber instead of aluminium creates a lower ‘U’ value which translates into a more energy efficient and comfortable home. In fact, the humble single glazed timber window naturally performs better than an aluminium window of the same kind. It takes the incorporation of an expensive ‘thermal break’ to create a similar U-Value in an aluminium window – Source.
  • A hardwood timber window with a protective coating will have the greatest life cycle assessment of any type of window. Refer to this comparative life cycle assessment of window systems. This information translates to other building materials too – such as wall claddings, stairs, floors and structural components.
  • A timber screen wall creates an acoustic and thermal barrier on concrete walls.
  • Hardwood has a great Life Cycle Analysis which results in one of the best Environmental Product Declarations possible. Use this to obtain more Green Star credits.
  • Wood is ‘better than carbon neutral’ because of stored carbon during photosynthesis.
  • A working hardwood forest is better for the climate than the alternative Carbon Stocks and Flows in Native Hardwood
  • Timber is good for our health – Source.
  • The by-products of sustainable timber can be used as carbon neutral energy alternatives to fossil fuels. Source.
  • Timber has predictable char patterns when exposed to fire which hold some structural properties as they burn. This can make timber favorable over metals that may collapse when exposed to heat – Source.
  • Engineered and Mass Timber solutions are now available for construction of buildings up to 25m high (8 Storeys) using the ‘Deemed to Satisfy’ provisions of the National Construction Code (NCC) within Australia. We are now seeing buildings as tall as 30 storeys being built using products like our hardwood glulam posts or CLT – Source.

Embodied energy of common materials

Typical figures for some Australian building materials are given in the tables (source) that follow. Generally, the more highly processed a material is the higher its embodied energy. This table does not factor in the amount of CO2 stored in timber as it grows – which compounds the benefits of timber even further.

Embodied energy for common building materials
Material PER embodied energy MJ/kg
Source: Lawson 1996
Stabilised earth 0.7
Precast tilt-up concrete 1.9
Kiln dried sawn hardwood 2.0
Clay bricks 2.5
Kiln dried sawn softwood 3.4
Plasterboard 4.4
Cement 5.6
Plywood 10.4
MDF (medium density fibreboard) 11.3
Laminated veneer lumber 11.0
Glass 12.7
Galvanised steel 38.0
PVC (polyvinyl chloride) 80.0
Plastics — general 90.0
Synthetic rubber 110.0
Aluminium 170.0