in Greener Homes on 12 July 2009
Certified products have got the wood on the competition.
We use timber throughout our homes – for furniture, framing, flooring, decking, veneers, joinery, windows and doors. Trees absorb and store carbon dioxide as they grow, so timber can be a highly sustainable building material.
But according to David Baggs, technical director at Ecospecifier (a database of verified, eco-preferred products), unless you pay close attention, it’s likely your timber purchases are doing far more harm than good.
“Don’t buy timber unless it’s certified,” Mr Baggs says. “If it’s not, the odds are very, very high that you’re buying illegally harvested rainforest. This is particularly the case for furniture, especially if it’s made in Asia.”
There are dozens of certification schemes worldwide, but all are not equal. Mr Baggs recommends Forest Stewardship Council approval, as well as Greenpeace ecotimber. Recycled timber is also a good option, so long as it’s the genuine article.
Second-best options are the Australian Forestry Standard (AFS) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC), says Mr Baggs. “At the forest level they have a self-assessment (rather than third party) process.”
“With any of the schemes, it’s important to have chain of custody certification,” he continues. “That means the trail can be audited from the shop right back to the forest and you can make sure you’re getting what you pay for.”
Certified products can be more expensive, but not always. “It’s all about knowing where to find these products and that’s where Ecospecifier comes in.”