The Sustainability of Oak Framing

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How environmentally friendly is it to use oak as a building material? The answer is that from the planting of the trees to the assembly of the structure, oak is an ecologically friendly material for a multitude of reasons. 

Helping the Trees Help Us

Sustainable forest management is diligently practiced by our suppliers. This means that the sawmills we use, replant every tree that they fell and comply with all applicable environmental legislation and guidance. No deforestation occurs in the acquisition of timber as all the oak woodlands involved in sourcing our materials are preserved. Additionally, the great size that oak trees grow to means that fewer trees need to be cut down to acquire timber.

During their lifespan, oak trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and then release oxygen from their leaves. The carbon is integrated into the tree and then stored in the timber even after the tree has been felled. In fact, according to the UK Timber Framing Association oak has the lowest embodied CO2 of any available building material. The process of felling and replanting trees increases the volume of carbon dioxide filtered by the oak woods. This is because the young oak trees that replace their predecessors absorb carbon dioxide at a faster rate than older trees. 

Wood vs Stone, Plastic, and Steel

Construction materials that require mining for their extraction are significantly worse for the environment than oak. This is due to the unsustainable manner by which mining extracts natural resources. Trees can be replanted but minerals can only be taken once. 

Synthetic materials are also less ecological than oak due to the harmful gasses released as a biproduct of their construction. As oak only needs to be cut to size and planed before framing begins, little machinery is used. This in conjunction with the proximity of our suppliers means that emissions from our process are kept to a minimum. 

Oak Compared to Other Wood Types

When compared to other timber, oak boasts advantages regarding sustainability. Green oak contains substantial moisture which makes it easier, and less energy consuming, to work with than other hardwood. Additionally, oak requires no treatment before it can be used in construction therefore no harmful chemicals will be released into the ecosystem following the assembly of a structure. 

When working with oak, no part of a felled tree needs to be wasted. Larger offcuts can be manufactured into integral components of the frame, such as pegs, plugs and braces. Meanwhile, smaller off cuts can used as an energy source for wood burners. Even the sawdust can be used by local farms as bedding for livestock. 

Oak is an extremely durable material and oak frame structures have the longevity to outlast generations of occupants. The hardiness of oak means that the structures will rarely, if ever, require repair or replacement because of decay. 

Oak is naturally water resistant due to tannins within the timber and this resistance only increases as the oak ages and dries. In addition to its hardiness, oak is also an effective insulator due to its density. This means that oak structures have the potential to lessen the use of air conditioning and central heating. Consequently, reducing energy bills and minimising a household’s carbon footprint.

A Final Word

At Foxtail Oak we care about the sustainability of our brand. We utilise local suppliers, drawing much of our timber from the UK, and never going further afield than France. We are passionate about constructing durable, low maintenance structures, and take pride in the fact that our work will last long after we are gone. 

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