International Journal of Civil Engineering, Construction and Estate Management (IJCECEM)

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An Assessment of Timber as a Sustainable Building Material in Nigeria


Timber, as a building material, was assessed for its sustainability using data from secondary sources. It established that a sustainable building material must be environmental friendly, affordable, flexible in usage and durable. Timber possesses these characteristics. The paper thus compared fuel energy required to produce timber as well as carbon dioxide released and stored during production with other common building materials such as steel, concrete and aluminium.  It observed that 750 MJ/m3, 26600MJ/m3, 4800MJ/m3 and 1100000 MJ/m3 of fossil fuel energy is required to produce Rough Sawn Timber, Steel, Concrete and Aluminium respectively.  The work revealed that timber stores as much as 250 Kg/m3 of carbon dioxide (CO2) and releases only 15Kg/m3 into the atmosphere.  In contrast, Steel, Concrete and Aluminium store no carbon dioxide while they release 5320 Kg/m3, 120Kg/m3 and 22000 Kg/m3 respectivelyinto the atmosphere. Additionally plants, the primary source of timber, absorb carbon dioxide and release oxygen into the atmosphere during photosynthesis with a comparatively low thermal conductivity advantage. The paper consequently concluded that since timber is readily available in the country, it is a highly sustainable building material in the nation.  It posited that the problems associated with the usage of wood, such as attack by insects, fungi, fire, depletion of natural resources etc can be ameliorated with the aid of preservative treatments, fire retardant and afforestation.

Keywords: Assessment, Building Material, Embodied Energy, Nigeria, Sustainable, Timber

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