The Benefits of Using Timber for Leisure Buildings

Timber is the oldest and most sustainable building material ever known. Not only does its use have significantly less environmental impact than steel or concrete, but it has other properties which bring additional benefits to those using a leisure building day in, day out.


Mark Brown

Consultant at TG Escapes

Timber is the only construction material that is truly sustainable. 97% of timber used in Europe is registered under the FSC and PEFC schemes, resulting in the European forested area increasing by 30%. In fact, there are numerous benefits of using timber, such as:

•  Timber uses far less energy to harvest and manufacture (-676kg/CO2e/m3)

•  Timber is not only a carbon sink (sun, water and carbon); but it releases oxygen and improves air quality during its 60-year life cycle

•  Timber weighs 20% the dead weight of concrete and 6% the dead weight of steel

•  According to the Athena Calculator, wood outperforms concrete and steel on a number of environmental measures

•  Versus timber, concrete causes +470% more water pollution, 150% more fossil fuel consumption and 240% more smog potential. Steel causes 300% more water pollution, 140% more fossil fuel consumption and 120% more smog potential

So on environmental considerations alone, a timber-framed building solution is a good choice. However, when constructed well, a modular timber frame system can also produce a building which is net-zero carbon in use and one that looks and feels much warmer than alternatives.

Weitzer Parkett, ProHolz Austria and partners undertook a research project called ‘School Without Stress’, where the idea was to try to scientifically demonstrate the advantages of using timber within a classroom and its long-term benefits to students who study within them. They found that, on average, children in a timber classroom had 8600 fewer heartbeats per day than those in a traditional building.

At TG Escapes, we combine the use of natural materials with floor-to-ceiling windows and doors and covered decking areas for easy access to the outdoors. This enhances wellbeing and educational outcomes.

A study by A Sigman shows that children exposed to nature:

•  Scored higher on concentration and self-discipline

•  Improved awareness, reasoning and observational skills

•  Better reading, writing, maths, science and social studies

•  Were better at working in teams

•  Showed improved behaviour overall

We conduct regular research amongst customers in leisure and education to understand how our timber frame buildings perform. We have provided sports pavilions, changing facilities and performing arts studios.


Customer responses show that these natural buildings provide spaces that feel very different from other types of buildings.

“Giving the children a new setting to learn in has had a big impact on their motivation. Working amongst natural surroundings has enhanced imagination and creativity. Talking to the pupils about the eco-friendly features has been a great way to teach them about sustainability and the environment.”
- Helen Chalmers, Headteacher

“Our pupils feel valued and like the roominess and light of their new learning space. The cedar building also has a warmth that is hard to put into words but, basically, they feel comfortable.”
- David Duncan, Headteacher

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