The timber revolution

Steve Winscott, director at Nine Zero, a UK manufacturer of bespoke timber windows and doors, talks about why timber is the most sustainable choice to decarbonise our supply chain.

The Government’s Net Zero strategy aims to decarbonise all sectors of the UK economy by 2050. Its ten-point plan for a ‘Green Industrial Revolution’ was set out in 2020 and Point 7: Greener Buildings sets out targets for improving the energy efficiency of our housing stock as well as commercial, public sector and other non-domestic buildings.

This is going to already be a challenge, and that’s without a clear action plan of how we can decarbonise the supply chain in construction whilst creating low-carbon buildings.

Elsewhere, sustainability and caring for the environment have come to the forefront of consumers’ minds. An independent study commissioned by energy company SmartestEnergy found that 4 out of 5 people would choose a brand that had a positive commitment to environmental sustainability.

Sustainable manufacturing is by no means an easy feat, but it is definitely achievable, as we‘ve proven with the success of Nine Zero. We have a headstart, of course – timber is a much more sustainable and environmentally friendly material than PVC-U or aluminium and the evidence is clear on this.

A report by Heriot Watt University shows that across an estimated 60-year life span, each timber window installed instead of a PVC-U window would save over 160kgs of CO2e.

It’s naturally warm – offering increased thermal efficiency for homes to help reduce their emissions, and specialist glazing options can reduce this even further, with vacuum glazing and krypton glazed units, helping to achieve U-values as low as 0.7 w/m2k. It’s also the only naturally renewable mainstream construction material – meaning less waste. It’s got an impressively long lifespan and research has shown that timber windows are actually less expensive than PVC-U counterparts when the ‘whole-of-life’ cost is considered.

Every part of our manufacturing process considers our environmental impact – from where we source our materials to waste disposal. We choose Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certified sources for our engineered redwood and Red Grandis timber for our window and door manufacturing. We operate with responsible manufacturing processes; we use Future Net Zero energy suppliers, and our waste is recycled on local farms.

We are always looking at other ways we can reduce carbon emissions and we have recently joined a tree-planting initiative so that we can give even more back to our planet. For every order placed with us, we plant five trees.

Whilst consumers have a positive attitude towards choosing sustainable products from sustainable brands, we sometimes find that they assume timber means traditional, and the perception of timber may also include people thinking they rot and warp quickly. However, modern manufacturing processes and material means timber windows now perform for longer and all our windows come with a range of guarantees.

Whilst we do utilise traditional craftsmanship as part of our fabrication process, it’s combined with the latest in CNC technology. It gives us the best of both worlds – not only in our production processes but also in window design.

Timber gives us an incredible level of design flexibility, and whilst there are many heritage buildings out there looking for modern timber replicas of original sliding sash windows, we have so many projects coming through the factory that are blending the beauty of timber craftsmanship with some amazing modern design twists.

The Net Zero targets make it clear that we need to improve the efficiency of our housing stock in the UK by creating low-carbon buildings. However, it’s also just as important to decarbonise the supply chain in order to achieve these targets, which is why timber leads the way over PVC-U and aluminium alternatives.

That’s why it’s time to embrace the timber revolution.