Knock on Wood
Timber isn't exactly a novel construction material, but today's designer are falling in love with it anew thanks to its sustainably managed, fire-retardant and carbon-capturing properties. Could it be the answer to some of the world's environmental problems?
Consider the work of Finland-based company, Kontio, the world’s largest log home manufacturer. For them, the use of wood in home structures outweighs the performance of any other material, particularly when using Arctic pine from forests close to the Arctic Circle in Northern Finland. They find this species gives the structures added durability and also contains natural antibacterial qualities making it resistant to moisture and mould. In construction, the timber also performs well against fire with its natural humidity protecting it from ignition. Furthermore, the material absorbs carbon dioxide as it grows, a quality that remains impounded in the timber. This provides an added bonus, as no fossil carbons are consequently released into the atmosphere.
Kontio’s log houses are designed to be energy efficient whatever the weather; this means that the low sunlight of the northernmost hemisphere provides the perfect conditions for the solid walls to collect and conserve energy. Additionally, to reduce landfill levels, any shavings and sawdust from the construction process are used as bioenergy, showcasing yet another benefit of using this natural resource correctly.N by Norwegian September issue.
Kontio actively recognises and addresses its impact on the environment. “We only work with sustainably managed forests, and for every tree used we replant 4 to 5 more. We also ensure the forests have minimal interference to allow wildlife to thrive.” says Eino Hekali, the company’s Global Sales Director and also owner of a small forest himself. “Forest is Finland’s green gold, so everyone wants to take good care of it. It is in our genes to look after it.”
Being almost completely recyclable, wood encourages a ‘circular’ mindset, discouraging the ‘throwaway’ ideology that has become so potent in today’s society. “Using the material ensures we adopt this way of thinking,” says Kontio’s Eino Hekali, “it offers longevity in construction as well as being recyclable and reusable, closing the loop to ensure it can stay in the system.” With a proven history of successful forest management, the Nordic region has set an example from which the rest of the world can not only learn but potentially adopt their own system. Perhaps there is still hope yet in saving and maintaining the earth we are privileged to inhabit.
Knock on Wood article was published in n by Norwegian Magazine, September issue. You can find the full article on the page 72-80.
Read n by NorwegianThe Kontio Glass House 50. You can see examples of Kontio’s log homes in their exhibition area in Nurmijärvi, located only 30 minutes from Helsinki. Norwegian flies to Helsinki from more than 30 destinations.