Photo: City of London Freemen's School Swimming Pool © Hawkins\Brown


Building processes include considerations from transportation of materials to the actual construction itself. Wood is a lighter construction material, often reducing the number of deliveries and the amount of fuel used. Methods such as offsite construction also improve efficiency and time spent on site. When compared to building with other materials, timber consistently provides programmatic savings.


Suggested Reading

Wood Information Sheets

Introduction to timber frame construction

This Wood Information Sheet will give readers a solid understanding of timber frame construction and contains information on the benefits of its use, as well as the ways in which it can work with other construction materials such as external cladding on brick walls.


Learning Resources

Module: Construction principles, specification and design

This module is a teaching aid for tutors delivering courses on the use and design of timber in engineering and architecture.


Unit: Introduction to timber construction

This unit covers the following topics: timber construction; working within dimensional limits; wall thickness; and building orientation.


Unit: Designing for building performance

This unit covers the following topics: thermal performance; airtightness; and acoustic performance.


Unit: Introduction to off-site construction and construction sequence

This unit covers the following topics: introduction to off-site construction; different methods of off-site construction; designing for off-site construction; and construction sequence.


Magazine Articles

Timber in construction: mitigating climate change (2020)

Timber as a construction material offers many opportunities for mitigating the impacts of climate change. Callum Hill and Andrew Norton explore the targets and challenges ahead for the construction sector.


A clean technology solution for a healthy built environment (2019)

Robert Hairstans on the benefits of off-site timber construction.


Building better and more sustainably in the modern-day marketplace (2019)

Daniel Ball assesses the current problems in the UK's housebuilding industry and suggests how timber offers a solution.


Is solid wood construction the key to material efficiency on site? (2019)

Tom Waddicor reports on how the use of timber can reduce construction waste.


A wooden tower: the seeds of an idea (2017)

Ron Bakker discusses a recent research project on tall timber buildings.


Delivering sustainability: what does the construction industry want from its timber and timber product suppliers? (2017)

Sustainability is a key concern for those who work with timber. Charlie Law reviews feedback from sustainability professionals within the construction industry summarising what is being achieved and what more can be done to meet the standards required.


Timber Building Case Studies

Cork House, Eton, Berkshire

Cork House is unique; it is the built form of a radical new approach to construction and sustainable design. The architects, Matthew Barnett Howland, Dido Milne and Oliver Wilton, set out to re-think a building from first principles, considering each stage of its life, including whole-life carbon, material life-cycle and design for disassembly.


City of London, Freemen’s School Swimming Pool, Ashtead, Surrey

The architect Hawkins\Brown has used timber to create an elegant cathedral-like structure for a new swimming pool, a structure which is also corrosion-resistant, resilient and carbon-neutral.


Storey’s Field Community Centre and Nursery

Storey’s Field Community Centre and Nursery is a building of rare quality. It was shortlisted for the Stirling Prize and cited, in its RIBA Award, as demonstrating ‘how an architect can add joy, an enhanced experience of materials and human dimension to every part of a building’.


The Enterprise Centre, Norwich, East Anglia

The Enterprise Centre, a new building on the University of East Anglia (UEA) campus, is an outstanding example of sustainability and low-embodied carbon construction.


The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care, Bath

The Dyson Centre for Neonatal Care (NICU) at the Royal United Hospital in Bath cares for more than 500 premature and sick newborn babies each year; it has been designed as a template to show how good, sustainable healthcare design can be achieved, setting a benchmark for good practice, and creating a therapeutic environment to benefit parents, children and staff.


Info from Other Organisations

Net Zero Carbon Buildings: A Framework Definition, UK Green Building Council (2019) 

UKGBC has developed a framework definition for net zero carbon buildings to provide the industry with clarity on how to achieve net zero carbon in construction and operation.


How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis, All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries (2019)

A report launched by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries (APPG), which highlights the key role timber industries can play in helping the Government meet its targets for housebuilding whilst working to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.



Off-site and industrialised timber construction 2nd edition, BM TRADA (2019)

The book is an authoritative guide for designers, construction professionals and manufacturers. It provides a detailed history of off-site timber construction and demonstrates how it can increase efficiency and sustainability.


Hybrid construction: timber-based solutions to structural challenges, BM TRADA (2016)

What is hybrid construction? And how can it be used to create sustainable and versatile buildings? This publication answers these questions by looking at different types of structural engineered timber in effective combinations with other materials, as illustrated by recent case studies. From straightforward projects to complex design briefs, hybrid construction is gaining momentum.


Low-energy timber frame buildings: designing for high performance, TRADA (2011)

This illustrated guide demonstrates how timber frame buildings can be designed and constructed cost effectively to be energy efficient. It shows how designers can also play a role in building use, providing end-users with a comprehensive operation manual. The design principles and construction details described apply to most mainstream building types up to seven storeys high.



Housing Infrastructure: contemporary issues in timber adoption, University of Derby (2016)

Scotland currently has 76·7% of all implemented timber-framed buildings in the UK housing market. England’s figure is 16%. The English contribution is considered relatively low given its demand for more sustainable, low-cost social housing. The aim of this study is to investigate potential contemporary barriers to the adoption of timber as a primary structural material in residential housing developments in England.


Incorporating embodied energy in the BIM process, Northumbria University (2012)

This paper examines the incorporation of carbon data into the Building Information Model (BIM) process and considers option appraisals that will enable design team members to evaluate both operational and embodied CO2 emissions over the life cycle of a project.


Saving on waste disposal – through waste segregation in construction (2004)

This timber waste management case study focuses on construction company Simons Group. Formed in 1944, the group is one of the largest contractors in the country. Over a three-year period, total waste, total cost of waste and waste to landfill at their head office was reduced by 73%, 76% and 87% respectively. This research information sheet looks at the methods introduced by Simons Group that led to the reduction in waste, as well as what other businesses can do to improve their own green credentials.


The Eden project – a waste neutral strategy in construction and operation (2004)

This research information sheet examines ways in which businesses can adopt a more sustainable attitude to construction. Using the Eden Project - which aimed to recycle 55% of its construction waste - as a case study, this information sheet highlights some of the ways in which construction can reduce landfill waste.


Other sustainability sub-topics

Timber as a sustainable material 

Sustainable timber sourcing

Sustainable production of timber products

Sustainable building design in the circular economy

Sustainable building life

Sustainability and health

Sustainability – Home