Eco-Friendly Wood Carpentry

Sources:
“Forest Management”, by Arcadie Ciubotaru – Lux Libris Publishing House 1998,
“Forest Products and Wood Study”, by Eugene C. Beldeanu – “Transylvania” University 1999
“For A Living Planet” case study commissioned by “World Wildlife Fund” in the UK
More information on:
www.wwf.org.uk (World Wildlife Fund)
www.foei.org (Friends of the Earth International)
www.woodlandtrust.org.uk (Woodland Trust)
www.fsc.org (Forest Stewardship Council)
www.greenpeace.org (Greenpeace)

There are various definitions of the concept of sustainable development, including: “Sustainable development aims to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” or “Sustainable development is one that follows the needs of present without compromising the ability of future generations to satisfy their needs”.

Although sustainable development was initially meant to be a solution to ecological crisis caused by intense industrial exploitation of natural resources and continuous environmental degradation and seek to preserve environmental quality first, lately the concept has grown in complexity with emphasis on the quality of life, taking into consideration the environment, the economic factors and the social environment.

Based on this principle, in 1992 the “Earth Summit” took place in Rio de Janeiro, a United Nations conference which was attended by representatives from 172 countries.   The conference adopted several treaties on climate change (emissions of methane and carbon dioxide), biological diversity (species conservation) and stopping massive deforestation. Therefore terms such as “deforestation” and “logging” should be explained.

All countries admit that the world’s economic development can not be stopped and the exploitation strategies should be changed to suit the ecological limitations of the environment and the planet’s resources.  Unfortunately, the latest summit on climate change, held in Copenhagen in December, 2009, has failed to produce legally binding treaties to reduce greenhouse gas emissions or deforestation, leaving on the shoulders of the average citizen the protection of the environment.  The online media has said that Obama and Gordon Brown, the UK prime minister, have not shown realism and the accord they signed was just a way to make up for the time spent at the summit.

For a better understanding of sustainable development in the manufacture of glued laminate beams for windows, it is important to emphasize the characteristics of the manufacturing process in terms of promoting sustainable development and reducing the negative impact on the environment.

As the polyvinyl chloride (PVC) carpentry has brutally assaulted the market in Romania and other EU countries, ecological organizations have gathered information on the differences between the wood and the PVC carpentry, in regard to the sustainable development.  The following statements should be considered neutral from the point of view of both parties’ interests.

Forests provide a wide range of services that humans benefit of, directly or indirectly.  The forest has production functions (timber, fruit, mushrooms, melliferous plants, herbs, forage resources, etc.) and protective functions (soil and land stability, climate factors improvement, air purification, etc.).

The optimization ratio between the proposed exploitation and all functions provided by the forest is mainly achieved through the intervention in the life of young trees, ensuring the proper composition, structure, development and regeneration of the soil.

The harmonization of the two interests is the guarantee of a healthy environment and an inexhaustible source of raw materials.  The need to address appropriate issues in this area of activity, under both, cultural and economic aspects, has led over time, based on acquired practical and theoretical knowledge, to the structuring of a distinct field of productive activity, based on its own scientific principles, called “forestry”.  The science of forestry sets a range of  rules for managing forests, tree plantation, timber extraction and related natural resources.

Through the diversity of uses, it can be stated that the presence of wood has led to the emergence and development of the human species, being equally important as air, water or fire.  Along with the positive attributes of wood as raw material (low density, favorable physical and mechanical properties, easy processing) – it is easy to affirm that, on the foundation of the current environmental requirements, wood products have also other characteristics: they come from a natural raw material and they are harmless to human health, they are recyclable, biodegradable and contribute to carbon dioxide absorbtion.

The absence of intervention in the forest’s life leads to unhealthy ecosystems, degradation and can also create major imbalances.  So, exploitation of forests as a component of forestry science, based on scientific methods and principles, is a necessity, not an environmental destruction or aggression.  A pine tree’s life cycle indicates that it is recommended to be removed from the ecosystem at the age of 90-110 years; scientifically and economically there is no justification to be left to die and fall on the ground.  There is,  obviously, a flagrant contradiction between the exploitation of forests – as part of the forestry science –  and the traditional meaning of deforestation, so legitimately condemned.

According to official data, the available volume of wood that can be exploited in Romania is more than 21 million cubic meters.  In fact, this amount can not be reached because many forests are not accessible.  The main problem is the lack of infrastructure.  On the other hand, the Romanian Government established logging quota at about 18 million cubic meters, which means 15% less than the available exploitable timber.

Regarding the illegal cuttings, the data is contradictory.  According to online sources, the official data in 2005 shows that illegal cuttings represent 8% of the total volume available, although in the last decade the illegal cuttings stood frequently at around 15%. We believe that illegal cuttings rates are higher but they show  an inadequate forest management.  Obviously, the public pressure has greatly reduced the illegal cuttings and pushed the authorities to get more.  World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) has issued in July 2008 a report called “Illegal Wood for the European Market” which points out that nearly 20% of wood imported into the European Union is illegally or comes from suspect sources.  Wood from the EU countries is considered to be coming from legal sources, shows the report which analyzes the import of timber in 2007.

In order to get correct analysis of the necessary wood volume required in the wood carpentry market, we consider the following factors:
• Size of total demand for windows in Romania;
• Size of total demand for wood windows in a market share of 6% of total demand;
• The volume of semi-finished wood needed for all windows in Romania, approximately 720,000 linear meters of glulam and a volume of 4,500 cubic meters;
• The amount of semi-finished wood for window framing, expected at the same volume of 4500 cubic meters;
• The volume of semi-finished wood for all windows in Romania and window framing, estimated at about  9000 cubic meters.
The required semi-finished wood comes from 22,500 cubic meters of timber, which roughly means 56,250 cubic meters of logs.

The quantity of 56,250 cubic meters of logs needed to manufacture all the wood windows in Romania represents only 0.3% of the total auctioned wood.

In conclusion, the quota of timber needed for wood windows manufacturing is negligible compared to other industries.  We have reasons to state that the main threat for Romania is the monopoly created around the wood processing.

It is interesting to mention that the wood has a high degree of recyclability – among others, to produce heat out of wood waste.  For example, the difference between 56,250 cubic meters of logs and 9000 cubic meters of semi-finished wood for windows can replace about  3,190,000 Nmc of methane, worth about 311,700 RON.

Wood allows the development of structures in a universe of shapes, sizes and possibilities to adapt to any architectural ensemble; it fascinates through its features, design and nobility.  Wood breathes, naturally offers heat and sound insulation, it is a natural, warm, renewable and in perfect harmony with nature, increasing our quality of life.

In regard to the benefits of using wood windows, the Association of Energy Auditors for Buildings – AAEC made these remarks: “Through (total) thermal rehabilitation, the potential savings on the consumer’s heat is of about 40%.  By modernizing the equipment of the heat suppliers, the potential power savings could reach 88% for customers in urban areas”.

In this context, the savings made through thermal rehabilitation with wood windows is 30% of all thermal rehabilitation procedures.  Out of a total saving of 200 to 1,000 Euro/year through thermal rehabilitation, the windows contribute with 60 to 300 Euro savings per year (according to AAEC).  Multiplying these values with the amount of years in the life span of the woodwork, the total savings on a long run are of about 18,000 Euro.  In conclusion, the thermal rehabilitation by replacing old windows with quality wood windows is a wise decision that need to be taken urgently.
The PVC windows manufactures have aggressively pushed their products onto the market, misleading, distorting and advertising unrealistic benefits of their products. The PVC windows are the least healthy and eco-friendly.  Under the false pretenses of a low cost, their products are actually too thin for a window.

To find out more about the differences between wood windows and PVC windows and the advantages of the wood windows over the latter, please read “Window Of Opportunity – The environmental and economic benefits of specifying timber window frames ” on the WWF website – http://assets.wwf.org.uk/downloads/windows_0305.pdf.

This article is property of the Marketing Department of AZI S.R.L. Romania, Piatra Neamt.