Choosing the right materials for your decking project requires careful thought. You want something that matches the style of your home, falls within a budget and you also want to know that your choice is a good one for the planet.
Tree growth is a major source of carbon sequestration, or the removal of carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere. CO2 is bound into longer carbon chains forming wood fibres which act as a carbon sink for the life of the timber product. In contrast, materials made from oil, like plastics and wood-plastic composite (WPC) decking, are net producers of CO2.
For example, 1kg of softwood represents about 4kg of bound CO2, so an average 30m2 deck has locked up about 535kg of CO2 from the atmosphere for as long as the wood exists. According to the Western Wood Preservers Institute, one 4m long pressure-treated deck board offsets 9kg of CO2 from the atmosphere and saves 25kg of CO2 when compared to an alternative product like WPC decking.
Timber as a decking material has several environmental benefits over alternatives:
Timber is sustainable: trees naturally grow from the power of the sun while providing habitat for wildlife. During their lifetime, they consume CO2, clean the air, release oxygen and retain the sequestered CO2 after felling.
Timber is renewable; even after trees are harvested, sustainable forest management ensures Europe’s forests are growing not shrinking. International schemes such as the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) and the PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) ensure that the timber is derived from well managed resources and not illegally introduced. All members of the Timber Trade Federation throughout the construction industry are subject to mandatory auditing to ensure the Chain of Custody is maintained.
Timber is recyclable; decking can be refinished or even turned into other home projects after its original use.
The Danish Technological Institute and the Swedish Environmental Institute has compared the CO2 release in building from different decking materials. They concluded that the start-to-finish lifetime process of constructing a 30m2 deck made from Swedish pine (including the screws) would contribute a net 172 kg of CO2 to global warming. By comparison a 30m2 deck constructed of WPC sourced from China, would contribute eleven times that quantity at 1867 kg of CO2.
In carbon footprint terms alone, deciding on a treated eco friendly timber deck with a design life of fifteen years is absolutely the right choice,