We hear about sustainability all the time but what does it actually mean and why is it so important in terms of construction?


By definition, sustainability is ‘avoiding the depletion of natural materials in order to maintain an ecological balance’. Or more simply: replacing what we use from the earth, considering and caring for the environment.


Never has the environmental sustainability of how we live been so important: we face a climate emergency. The UK construction industry is responsible for 49% of UK carbon emissions* and must make decisive changes to reduce this figure. The UK Government and devolved administrations committed to the Net Zero target as recommended by the Committee on Climate Change.**


Adopting a sustainable strategy will help the construction industry in reducing its carbon footprint. If maintaining an ecological balance is one half of the sustainability whole, then timber is the only material which can fulfil the other half. Timber is natural, renewable and ecologically benign to grow, fell and replant: it is the ultimate sustainable material.


We can use wood then plant more trees in order to avoid depletion, but more than this: we can plant beyond our construction needs to contribute to reducing the other 51% of UK carbon emissions. Timber has a vital role to play in a bold and sustainable building future.


At TRADA we have worked tirelessly to champion the use of timber in construction. Much of what TRADA publishes includes useful references to sustainability, but below is a selection of key downloadable resources and publications grouped by area of interest.


Climate Emergency Design Guide, LETI, 2020

** Reaching Net Zero in the UK, the Committee on Climate Change (CCC)


Timber as a sustainable material 


Sustainable timber sourcing

Sustainable production of timber products


Sustainable building design in the circular economy


Sustainable building processes


Sustainable building life


Sustainability and health