Woodspec reflects an increasing confidence in wood usage and design in Ireland. It also reflects the ecologically-aware age we now live in, as an increasing number of environmentally responsible architects, engineers, designers, builders and specifiers turn to timber, safe in the knowledge that what they use will be replaced given the renewable nature of wood.
They choose wood because it is a strong, durable material capable of producing a wide range of finishes and structures, suitable for small-scale and large-scale building and design projects. However, its main advantage over other materials lies in its aesthetic appeal: wood is quite simply a beautiful material to work and to live with. In addition, as energy costs soar, timber is proving its worth as an excellent insulator and as an alternative fuel.
There is no waste in wood: after a log is sawn for construction, furniture, veneering, fencing and other primary uses, the remainder is processed into engineered wood products and paper, and today it is even further reprocessed and recycled as efficient renewable fuel.
Timber growers, processors and end users are now part of a wood chain that is contributing positively to the environment and to sustainable living. There is a growing awareness of the positive role the world's forests make in relation to climate change. Irish forests can contribute about 20% of the reductions in national greenhouse gas emissions that Ireland needs, to fulfil its obligations, to meet Kyoto targets. But the wood we use not only sequesters or stores carbon during its life span, every tree that is harvested in Ireland is replaced by five trees either through reforestation (tree crop replacement) or afforestation (new planting).
While wood is a versatile resource, it is also a living material with endless variations. It requires knowledge and expertise, careful handling and a different creative approach to other building materials. Woodspec is designed to provide the necessary information to ensure that wood specifiers have sufficient knowledge to maximise timber usage and design over a wide range of applications. It includes principles of good practice, information on usage, grading, and preservation, and a number of case studies, which illustrate the best in Irish wood design. These set the tone for the five main technical sections covering design guidance, detailed drawings, timber specifications, building specifications and reference material.
Despite major strides in wood usage and design, the editors were conscious that we have much ground to make up to ensure that wood is accepted as a medium suitable for a wide range of buildings and fittings. They were aware too that the forest and wood sector has to reach out to a growing audience who wish to use timber but who lack the information and confidence to maximise its potential. Although it is aimed primarily at architects, engineers, designers, builders, planners, specifiers and students, Woodspec is designed to appeal to anybody with an interest in wood and wood working. The Wood Marketing Federation (WMF) is also conscious of the guide's educational value and is actively promoting it to relevant third level colleges. Woodspec will be a vital publication for students as it encourages innovative wood design in a new generation of wood workers.
WMF is committed to supporting projects that encourage research and innovation, leading to a greater awareness and knowledge of wood, wood usage and design. Woodspec is one of many projects initiated by the Federation to promote wood so that Ireland will achieve, over time a strong and vibrant wood culture.
My sincere thanks to the editorial team for their input and perseverance in completing this project. I also acknowledge the WMF members for generously funding Woodspec. I commend them for supporting other educational, promotional and research projects which are compatible with the mission of WMF "to promote wood as a renewable, sustainable and versatile natural material".
Wood Marketing Federation