28 Jul

Using sustainable timber in the design and build industry

Despite the pandemic drawing everyone’s attention this year, climate change remains a concerning issue. We believe it is essential that the design and build industry continues the conversation and help protect the environment.

Building materials such as PVC and aluminium are non-renewable resources that release high amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere during their production process. Despite the urgent need to cut down on carbon emissions, the building industry is still using these materials in large quantities. 

Being a bespoke joinery specialist, we’re fully aware of the impact trees can make on our environment and consider timber to be a superior alternative to PVC and aluminium. As they grow, trees pull CO2 out of the air and produce oxygen, but they also sequester carbon, even once they have been felled and converted into timber products. Without doubt, using sustainable timber is the way forward when it comes to fighting climate change.

Traditional Accoya timber sliding sash windows

As those of us in the design and build industry increase our efforts to combat global warming, wood continues to rise in popularity as a sustainable material. However, ensuring that sustainable logging practices accompany the increasing demand for timber will always be a challenge. There are plenty of timber suppliers in the market who will advertise that their supplies are from sustainably managed plantations. With such a complex supply chain, how can we consistently guarantee that the timber we use in our projects has not caused damage to the environment?

Always check for the FSC certificates

The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an independent, non-governmental organisation which promotes the environmentally sound, socially beneficial, economically viable and responsible management of the world’s forests. The FSC Principles & Criteria (FSC P&C) is a set of rules that defines best practice in forest management and helps global forest owners and managers work towards these goals. To receive an endorsement from the FSC, forestry companies must adhere to these ten principles before it can receive an FSC forest management certification.

Having an independent certification system in the industry makes it considerably easier to verify timber products and to help reassure our clients that we have used responsible materials. An invoice or delivery note from a supplier which clearly states the applicable FSC claim/s and their FSC certificate code is the proof that the timber products have been procured sustainably. 

Continuing the conversation at The Building Centre in London

The Building Centre has been an innovative hub of knowledge since the 1930’s. By showcasing some of the best materials and manufacturing approaches, the centre is considered a pioneering educational resource for the architecture, design, and build industry. Being in the industry for over 30 years, we are delighted to have a permanent display of our products in the centre, which we updated last year to include information about low-carbon footprints and the evolution of glazing and joinery. Discover more about our stand at The Building Centre here.

We were particularly interested to hear about The Building Centre’s upcoming exhibition; Conversations about Climate Change – which is due to open from November this year. Originally, The Building Centre intended their show to coincide with the 26th UN Climate Change Conference (COP26), which was scheduled to take place in November in the UK. 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, organisers have postponed COP26 until 2021 but Conversations about Climate Change is still going ahead, with a strong focus on using timber as a sustainable material. Visitors can engage with wooden objects that are intended to initiate essential climate-related conversations. The exhibition will also showcase some exciting ‘conversation pieces’; an array of furniture, sculpture, models and functional design objects made from tropical hardwood to highlight the vital role for tropical forests in the climate debate.

‘The Building Centre will continue to provide a platform for urgent debate about sustainability with Conversations about Climate Change, an exhibition and events programme in collaboration with the Timber Trade Federation,’ explains Commercial Director, John Bonning. ‘The show will feature the winners of a design competition judged by an expert panel and highlight the vital role for tropical forests in the climate debate.’

Why we use Accoya®, the ultimate sustainable timber

At Westbury Garden Rooms, we use Accoya® for the outward-facing section of our engineered wood, particularly for vulnerable elements of our projects such as the ridge cap of a roof lantern or the external window cill. We also use Tricoya® (a version of MDF made from Accoya®) to manufacture our door panels. 

Watch this video for more information about Accoya’s sustainable, eco-friendly qualities:


Accoya® primarily comes from abundantly available, FSC-certified, fast-growing trees such as Radiata Pine. They are sustainably sourced from forests in New Zealand, Chile or Spain. Radiata Pine is an environmentally-friendly alternative as it takes approximately 28 years to grow, compared to 70-120 years for a hardwood alternative such as oak. 

It is one of the very few building products to have acquired Cradle-to-Cradle certification at the stringent Gold level. Accoya is CO² neutral throughout its full lifecycle, 100% biodegradable and offers exceptional performance and longevity. Accoya provides superior thermal insulation and is guaranteed to last for up to 50 years, making it an excellent material for our bespoke doors, windows, and roof lanterns.  

Westbury Windows and Joinery produce exceptional bespoke windows, doors and roof lanterns to homes across the UK. Contact us today to discuss your project in more detail, or alternatively you can book an appointment to visit one of our showrooms.