Should we all be living in a treehouse?

Early last year the government announced that, from 2025, gas boilers will be banned in new build houses in an attempt to reduce carbon emissions. This policy may reduce the day to day emissions that come with living in a traditional house, however it does not tackle the carbon footprint of building a house itself.

It is estimated that building a single two-bedroom house produces 80 tonnes of carbon emissions; multiply this by the government’s target of delivering 300,000 new homes per year and that’s 24 million tonnes of carbon emissions produced annually. These carbon emissions need to be reduced, but how can this be achieved when, unlike the gas boilers inside them, the government cannot just ban new builds, given the significant housing shortage in the UK.

One promising solution is to change the materials used to build houses from steel, brick and concrete (all of which need carbon in their production) to timber, which stores carbon. Further benefits from timber include it being a great insulator, which reduces the carbon emissions needed to heat a house.  

Citu, a company based in Leeds, has embraced this solution and created the Citu Home. The Citu Home has a zero carbon footprint in construction and in its daily operation, as the timber frame it is built from stores more carbon than the other non-timber elements needed to construct the home. In fact, when a Citu Home is first built it removes over 23 tonnes of carbon from the atmosphere. When this is compared to the 80 tonnes of carbon emitted by constructing a traditional house, the use of timber appears to be a very promising solution.

As for the trees used to create the timber frames, these should come from FSC-certified and if possible, local forests to ensure the source of the timber, the forests, are managed responsibly and road miles for transport of construction materials are minimised.

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