Why Choose Wood Building Materials?

Environmental Benefits of Using Wood in Construction 

“One of the best ways to address climate change is to use more wood, not less. Every wood substitute – including steel, plastic and cement – requires far
more energy to produce than lumber.”
– Dr. Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace.


Western Red Cedar Blocks

  • Wood is the only 100% renewable resource in the manufacturing of building materials.
  • Wood is the only naturally recyclable and biodegradable building material.
  • Wood has the lowest environmental impact compared to other building products such as steel, concrete, tile, vinyl siding, fiber cement siding, and stucco.
  • Wood products require less embodied energy. This is energy used in the extraction, production and transportation of the resource.
  • Wood products require little to no fossil fuels (a non-renewable resource) to produce.
  • Wood products produce less air pollution.
  • Wood products produce less water pollution.
  • Wood products generate less greenhouse gases.
  • Wood reduces carbon emissions while concrete and steel increase carbon emissions.Western Red Cedar Trees Being Harvested
  • Carbon Dioxide (CO2) is considered a contributor to Global Warming – young and mature trees reduce CO2 from the atmosphere.
  • Wood products are better insulators in homes and buildings which reduces the energy consumption in both heating and cooling making it the most energy-efficient material.
  • Wood building materials are 400 times better at insulating than steel and 15 times better than concrete.
  • Wood products produce less solid waste – both in manufacturing of the products and at construction sites. There is virtually no waste in manufacturing wood products.
  • Wood products generate less greenhouse gases. Wood reduces carbon emissions while concrete and steel increase carbon emissions.
  • Wood products have the lowest ecological resource use index. This means that while trees are harvested the effects are only short-term as reforestation follows. Other products have long-term effects as their resources are non-renewable i.e. petroleum for plastic and ore used in steel and aluminum siding. Once these non-renewable resources are gone they cannot be replaced. The trees themselves are produced naturally through solar energy.
  • Wood can be re-used and recycled with very little additional energy. Concrete cannot be re-used in the same form but can be down cycled to aggregate with a lot of additional energy expended.

Old Growth Western Red Cedar stumps being harvested


  • No other building product is more environmental than wood as demonstrated in
    “ATHENA’s life cycle assessment” research and study. From the growing of the tree to the disposal of the wood products, wood has a minimal environmental footprint.  Non-renewable products such as steel, aluminum and concrete use up to 250% more fossil fuel energy from the production to the disposal vs. wood.

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Western Red Cedar cants being transported for milling


We would like to acknowledge and thank the following sources for the information provided:

Teal Jones Group

Coast Forest and Lumber Association

Canadian Lumbermen’s Association

The Athena Institute

The Wood Users Guide to Green Building



Rain Screen Siding Installation Q&A

What is Rain Screening?

In the quest to finding better moisture management and energy efficiency, more architects and builders are installing exterior siding using rain screen installation methods. Basically, rain screening is a system, not an actual “thing”, that is used to create an air gap between the exterior siding (cladding) and a water resistant barrier that is installed over the sheathing of the structure.

By creating an air cavity between the moisture barrier and the exterior siding, this double wall construction uses the outer layer (the exterior siding) to keep the rain out, while the inner layer (an air/moisture barrier) provides thermal insulation and prevents excessive air leakage. It also allows any moisture that may pass thorough the siding to easily drain away, as well as accelerates evaporation of any residual moisture within the walls.  In the event that any water does collect behind the exterior cladding, the air gap allows it to dry, which prevents moisture build up and rot.

Rain screening is created by attaching vertical furring strips that are generally 1/4 – 3/8″ thick, by 2 – 3.5″ wide, using plywood or other treated wood strips, plastic mats or other rain screen system creating materials, over a water resistant barrier, such as tar paper.  Flashing is then installed over any penetrations and all vulnerable areas where water may pool or collect to allow it to evaporate and/or drain away.  Finally, the exterior siding is installed by adhering it to the furring strips, thus creating the air gap behind for air flow.

Red Balu Mahogany used as rain screening

Be sure to contact your local building department for specific codes on rain screen installation in your area and follow all manufacturer’s recommendations to ensure the success of your project.

In these photos, 1×6 Alaskan Yellow Cedar dimensional boards were used as exterior siding over rain screening.  Simply beautiful, durable and eco-friendly.  Alaska Yellow Cedar, also referred to as Nootka Cypress, has almost always been identified by the species label nootkatensis (so named for the Nuu-chah-nulth people of Canada).  However, the genus of the tree has been changed many times with the most recent being in the Cuypressus genus.
Alaskan Yellow Cedar Rain screen Sidingphoto and craftsmanship by Kreider Construction of Anacortes, WA 


Although rain screening installation costs more than more traditional U.S. exterior siding methods, it can prevent costlier problems, such as rot and decay, later on.  It also can add green benefits to your project due to the thermal insulation properties, as well as adding to the longevity of the structure and the building materials used, thus reducing waste.

Dimensional knotty Western Red Cedar boards installed as rainscreen siding


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Western Red Cedar – The Environmentally Sound Choice!

High on the scale of “green building products” available,Western Red Cedar is one of the most versatile.

As consumers are becoming more and more aware of their environmental footprint, their decision-making process in building materials is changing. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be difficult to determine a particular product’s total environmental impact.

While many building products tout that they are made from recycled materials or are “green” in some way, there are many things to consider when selecting a product. One must consider the energy used to manufacture it, the emissions that are created
during the manufacturing process, as well as how the product will be disposed when its life cycle is complete.

green building logo

 Because of its versatility, Western Red Cedar is used in a wide variety
of residential and commercial building projects, both inside and out. It is available in stress grades for construction, as well as finishing grades in wide variety of lengths, widths, thicknesses and textures. It has high insulation values, looks amazing and is harvested from the world’s most sustainably managed forests.

And, when its life cycle is complete, Western Red Cedar building materials can be recycled and are 100% biodegradable.

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In a 2007 study conducted by Forintek, Canada’s leading forest products research
organization, Western Red Cedar decking and siding out performed man-made materials, used less energy overall and had a lower impact on the environment including global warming potential, acidification potential, ozone depletion and human particulate (respiratory) effects.  The only criteria in which it was not a leader, was on Western Red Cedar siding. But, that finding can be traced directly back to the use of paint on the siding, not the natural characteristics of Western Red Cedar itself. Therefore, the consumer would have the ability to improve this rating positively by the choice they make in their paint or stain.

In North America, there are many examples of historic buildings that Western Red Cedar has performed beautifully for hundreds of years and there are also many new buildings that have used reclaimed Western Red Cedar from old buildings. Additionally, when Western Red Cedar trees are harvested, those trees are promptly replanted. For every three trees harvested, eight are planted in British Columbia. While other products increase greenhouse gases, these new cedar trees actually improve the environment; more trees mean more oxygen.

Western Red Cedar Trees

So, when selecting building materials to use in your next project, be sure to choose Western Red Cedar.

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