Last edited 08 Jul 2018

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Delivering sustainable low energy housing with softwood timber frame

BRE (Building Research Establishment) is an independent, research-based consultancy, testing and training organisation, operating in the built environment and associated industries.

Delivering sustainable low energy housing with softwood timber frame (IP3/15) was written by Mark Waghorn, Ed Suttie and Andrew Sutton and published by BRE on 13 January 2015.

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Although timber frame has been a popular method for delivering housing in much of Europe and the US throughout the last century, this has historically not been the case in the UK. Cultural attitudes have resulted in a preference for masonry construction for its perceived permanence, and media coverage of timber-frame construction problems in the 1980s further affected people’s perceptions of this method. However, the cost benefits and convenience of construction with timber have meant it is increasingly favoured as a construction method in the 21st century.

Building with timber frame is one of the most sustainable methods of delivering new housing. If it is correctly managed, timber can be a renewable resource with lower embodied energy than masonry or concrete.

This 12-page information paper describes common approaches to timber framing in the UK and how these are evolving to meet the increasing demand for high performance, low energy housing. Case studies are also provided illustrating three approaches to low energy timber-frame residential construction.

The contents of the information paper are:

  • Introduction.
  • Description of the most common timber frame methods today.
  • Adapting today’s methods for low energy standards.
  • Issues relating to sourcing and processing timber.
  • Conclusions.
  • References and notes, and further reading.

--BRE Group

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