02.06.2021. Buildings have extensive direct and indirect impacts on the environment. During their construction, occupancy, renovation, repurposing, and demolition, buildings use energy, water, and raw materials, generate waste, and emit potentially harmful atmospheric emissions.
In order to reduce impacts, choosing the right material is key. Credible ways of evaluating a material, such as Life Cycle Assessments (LCA), are science-based and independently verified.
LCA studies also cover transport-generated emissions. According to the Research and Traffic Group (2013), 800 km by truck pollutes more than 5.000 km by boat. INTERHOLCO strives to reduce emission impacts from cradle to customer, by choosing rail or river transportation over road transportation.
© Andrew Ly
Because of its natural cellular structure, wood has a higher insulation rating than either steel or plastic. Timber frame homes and buildings require less energy to maintain heating and cooling. Depending on end use, wood can, to some degree, even help regulate humidity levels.
© Tandem X Visuals
The first step in preventing moisture-related damage to wood is, bringing each wood product to the correct moisture level. This process starts in the sawmill, with kiln drying.
In addition to its regular kiln chambers, INTERHOLCO has invested in kiln chambers best suited to optimally dry wood used in its range of engineered products, i.e. finger jointed laminated scantlings. Their exceptional stability and added strength make finger-jointed lam scans in hardwood from Africa ideal for door and window frames.
Now, wooden buildings are easy to insulate to high standards, as they have the advantage of lower thermal conductivity, compared to steel and concrete. Any wood structural systems can be designed to achieve a tight building envelope. New products such as cross laminated timber (CLT) offer increased thermal performance with exceptional air tightness over time (also due to dimensional stability) as well as resistance to high impact.
© Boris Zeisser / Natrufied Architecture
When it comes to embodied energy, LCA studies consistently show that wood outperforms other materials, i.e. the energy required to extract, process, manufacture, transport, construct and maintain a material or product is much lower. For instance, the European Coalition on Sustainable Tropical Timber (EU STTC) compared LCA performance of Azobé (Lophira alata), one of the hardwood species that INTERHOLCO harvests and transforms responsibly, to steel and plastic. The full study is available in Dutch.
© Andrew Davis
Choosing energy efficiency in a building, reduces the building's ecological footprint. Wood is proving to be ideal to create a net zero energy or net zero carbon building and thus meet the Passive House (Passivhaus) standard. A similar standard, MINERGIE-P, is used in Switzerland.
INTERHOLCO offers Sustainable Hardwood 'Made in Africa' as a responsible solution to promote better living conditions (construction with wood), reduce climate change, and increase social justice. As FSC-certified producer specialized in producing and trading logs, sawn timber, glued laminated scantlings and other products, INTERHOLCO manages the entire chain, from forest to customers since 1962. Harvesting wood selectively, INTERHOLCO protects 1.1 million hectares of natural forest from permanent conversion to agricultural land, giving 16’000 local inhabitants access to quality basic services and keeping the habitat of thousands of gorillas and elephants.
Communications contact INTERHOLCO
Tullia Baldassarri Höger von Högersthal
INTERHOLCO AG, Schutzengelstr. 36, 6340 Baar, Switzerland
Tel.: +41 (0)41 767 03 82