Why Build with Wood

Choose wood. Beautiful, strong, versatile wood.

The majority of choices we make everyday are seemingly inconsequential, but some have significant long-term consequences. Among those are the ones we make about the materials we use as we develop the built environment. Choose wood. Beautiful, strong, versatile wood. With innovations in wood technologies, wood is now the wisest choice for more and more building applications, including mid-rise and even high-rise structures.

Wood products are natural and infinitely renewable. They help fight climate change by storing carbon and they have less embodied energy than steel or concrete. In the Pacific Northwest, wood building materials are derived from sustainably managed forests and they are the primary economic driver for many rural communities.

  • Carbon and embodied energy

    Wood allows us to save energy at the building’s core. Wood has less embodied energy than either steel or concrete and buildings made of wood serve as carbon sinks—the carbon embedded in the wood when trees grow remains in the wood products derived from those trees. When new trees are planted to replace those we use, the cycle begins again.

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  • Environmentally Responsible

    Life cycle assessment studies consistently show wood to be better from an environmental standpoint. North American wood producers use 99 percent of each log they process, reducing waste to nearly zero. Wood is the only major building material derived from a resource that is both renewable and sustainably managed. In the Pacific Northwest laws mandate prompt reforestation after harvest and require landowners to protect wildlife and water quality, ensuring sustainable forests in perpetuity.

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  • Distinctive, Sturdy and Safe

    Wood construction offers design teams the opportunity to create architecturally distinctive buildings with stunning interiors that meet marketplace demands for warm, natural space with exposed structural elements. Advances in wood technology are making it possible to build these structures taller. Today, dozens of tall wood buildings have already been completed. Utilizing a wide range of hybrid building systems, architectural and engineering teams are proving time and again that tall wood buildings can be designed and built for both seismic and fire safety.

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  • Economic Drivers

    The promise of increased demand for wood products is music to the ears of many rural communities. The raw material for these advanced products are themselves traditional wood products, so even those communities that don’t add manufacturing capability will benefit from the increased demand for their local mill’s output. And while rural communities stand to benefit, so do the urban settings, like Portland, Oregon, where “new economy” start-ups characterized by cutting-edge technologies and high growth are moving in part to take advantage of these new, open-floor plan buildings with exposed wood structures.

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PHOTOS: PROJECT: Ahmanson Founders Room LOCATION: Los Angeles, CA ARCHITECT: Belzberg Architects ENGINEER: Gordon L. Polon Consulting Engineers AWARD CATEGORY: Interior Beauty of Wood PHOTOS: Benny Chan, Fotoworks

About OFRI

Oregon’s forests are vast — and so too are the issues and challenges that affect their continued health and productivity. The Oregon Forest Resources Institute was created by the Oregon Legislature in 1991 to advance public understanding of forests, forest products and forest management and to encourage sound forestry through landowner education. A 13-member board of directors governs OFRI. It is funded by a portion of the harvest tax on forest products producers. OFRI is a gateway to shared ideas and collaborative dialogue regarding the delicate balance between the environmental, social and economic values provided by our forests.