British Columbia is a key source for Douglas fir and other wood used in sustainable timber frame home construction
Many of those actively in the market to design and build their ultimate dream home – whether as primary residence, retirement home, or legacy property for their children – are also increasingly mindful of an important factor beyond aesthetics: the selection of building techniques and materials that minimize impact on the environment, are sustainable, and energy efficient.
For those intrigued by the classic and elegant look of timber frame homes, they are in luck. Characterized by the natural timber beams that are often left exposed to the interior, timber frame homes receive high marks as a sustainable, energy efficient building technique. Furthermore, when the Douglas fir or Western Red Cedar used is sourced from British Columbia, the world leader in sustainable and ethical harvesting, that grade can be bumped to an A+ on the environmental scorecard.
“Canada, and in particular British Columbia, is a true world leader in preserving natural resources not just by words, but in action,” says Dwight Smith, founder of Hamill Creek Timber Homes, a B.C.-based supplier of timber frame wood as well as architectural consulting and custom timber frame home development. “That spirit of conservation calls for the ethical harvesting of wood used in timber frame homes.”
With over 10 percent of the world’s forest cover (almost a billion acres), Canada has more forestland protected from harvesting than any other country. Less than one percent of the country’s managed forest is harvested each year, and areas that are logged must be promptly regenerated.
While the deforestation of many regions in the world is resulting in additional greenhouse gas emissions, the preservation of forestlands in Canada means far fewer greenhouse gasses are released there, and the use of prime Douglas fir and other local species of timber for frame construction serves to protect the environment even further.
“Using Douglas fir and other wood that is suitable for this construction has a double positive impact on the environment,” explains Smith. “In nature, large trees such as these function as the world’s largest carbon dioxide sink, taking in atmospheric carbon dioxide as part of the photosynthesis that causes trees to grow. The carbon dioxide is converted to cellulose, and remains in the wood until it is disposed of and burned as waste. Conversely, other building materials, such as steel and aluminum, consume enormous amounts of man-made energy to produce them, and require even more energy to recycle them.”