Comparing the performance of brick and timber in residential buildings – The case of Australia

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Energy and Buildings, 2018, 159 pp. 136 - 147
Issue Date:
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© 2017 Elsevier B.V. There is currently a limited use of timber products in residential development in Australia due to the dominance of heavy materials such as concrete, steel and brick. This dominant use of heavy materials is a reversal of the traditional material choice that was based predominantly on timber products. Technological advances and efficiencies drove the change to heavy materials to use in residential construction. The emerging issue with this reliance on heavy materials is the impact of their use on the environment. The carbon impact and problem of finite resource depletion associated with concrete, steel and bricks need to be addressed due to the increasing pressure from national and international requirements and legislations. The construction industry needs to reduce its negative impact on the environment and the renewable nature of timber presents a material solution to the problem. Timber from sustainably managed forests and plantations can be utilised as lumber or manufactured into engineered products for residential development. This paper examines the benefits of timber used in building envelopes when compared with conventional high-density materials such as brick and concrete when construction is designed with equivalent thermal performance. Multiple case studies were used to demonstrate the reduced life cycle energy and costs, and the time of construction benefits of timber when used as an alternative to heavy materials. Results revealed that Life cycle energy and time of construction showed noticeable differences between timber construction and heavy materials and cost showing marginal differences.
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