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Irish wood in housing

Irish wood in housing

In today's world, housing is becoming a significant issue in many countries, including Ireland. Solutions for house building can be found in all farm forests in Ireland. That is timber.

Timber is a clean, renewable, and environmentally sound product. It's been used for centuries for house building, Michael Somers, Teagasc Forestry Advisor, explains more on its use.

Timber is commonly used for walls and roofs in Irish housing. With the introduction of the concrete levy in 2023, timber-framed housing is about to experience a renaissance. Timber-frame construction involves constructing the walls and ceiling of a building using timber beams, which are then covered with a breathable membrane and finished with cladding. This type of construction is highly energy efficient, as the timber acts as a natural insulator, helping to keep homes warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

There are two distinct types of timber-framed construction: stick-built (built on site) or prefabricated, built in a factory and erected on-site. But even on more traditional builds, timbers' versatility is vast, including traditional post-and-beam, timber frame, and mass timber systems. This versatility means timber can be used in different building styles and designs, from classic cottages to contemporary homes.

In addition to its versatility, timber is also a durable building material. With proper maintenance and protection, timber can last for many decades. If we look at our Celtic cousins in Scotland. In a land with a similar climate, over 80% of new homes are being constructed with timber framing, showing it is possible to implement this practice in the mild temperate oceanic climatic area.

Timber used in Naval HQ, Haulbowline

Another advantage of using timber in Irish housing is its sustainability. Timber is a renewable resource. Once a forest is thinned, new wood will grow on the remaining stems. Once a forest is clear-felled, that forest is replanted. In Ireland, many of our wood-based products come from certified forests. This means that they have ensured continued growth and that wood-based products can be traced to their original forests. This makes timber an environmentally responsible choice for Irish homeowners.

Timber is also widely used for interior finishes in Irish housing. For example, timber flooring is popular, providing homes with a warm, natural look and feel. Additionally, cabinetry and furniture made from timber are popular in Irish kitchens and bedrooms, as they provide a durable and attractive finish that is easy to maintain.

Timber is a vital resource grown in Ireland that will continue to be essential in Irish housing and construction. While wood has been used extensively, new timber products will revolutionise timber versatility in modern facilities. Irish forests will grow enough timber to build 1.4 million homes by 2040. This will include new builds, timber-frame housing and refits.

Currently, the construction industry produces 37% of Ireland's greenhouse gas emissions, 14% of which comes from emissions generated during the building process.

To meet the Government's Climate Action Plan goals, the construction sector must lower emissions by 51%. More environmentally-friendly approaches and building habits must be adopted. Our forests indeed offer a way to deliver on these targets.

For more information on the services offered by Teagasc to the forestry sector, click here.