When beginning a project, architects, engineers and contractors often debate whether to use a steel or wood building. Steel has the perception of strength and endurance. However, our research and other independent studies show that wood and the Reaves Building System has several advantages over steel.
Wood is without a doubt the most environmentally friendly building material on earth. It has better insulation, better fire resistance and better strength. Why wood? After seeing these reasons, why wouldn’t you choose wood?
Wood Is More Environmentally Friendly
Wood is constantly growing and is sustainable. Wood in forests, particulary in young vigrous forests, absorbs carbondioxide, making a growing forest an efficient carbon sink. When older trees are harvested, the younger trees can grow, allowing for a healthy and everlasting wooded area. For every tree that is harvested for a Reaves building, five are planted.
Other building products do not use renewable material; they use fossil fuels such as cement and plastic, all of which severely impact the environment. Our materials do not need to be mined. Forestry practices have changed to adhere to codes that have been put in place so that forests are not destroyed. People are conscious of removing part of an ecosystem by replanting the trees, utilizing the whole tree and by leaving virtually no solid waste behind. The forests that are available for timber harvest are large enough to grow enough wood products to build 1.6 million homes each year, endlessly into the future.
When using wood for building materials, it’s important to replant more trees and to use properly sourced wood products coming from tree plantations and not from natural forests. Given these conditions, wood is the greenest construction material on the market.
Wood Is Long-Lasting
Wood buildings have a longer life span than steel building. Steel “sweats,” causing moisture to get into the insulation and into the steel connections. This provides conditions for mold to grow, which leads to corrosion and rust, shortening the longevity of the entire building.
Better Efficiency, Strength and Performance
Compared to rack load capacities on different roof and wall panels, the wood-braced shear walls in the Reaves Building System outperformed the tie-rod braced and cable-braced shear walls of typical metal buildings. In a Reaves building, there is no need for shear walls, which allows for flexibility in floor-plan designs.
It takes nine times more energy to produce a steel stud compared to a wood stud. Wood is more workable than steel, so it’s easier for a homeowner to fix it themselves. Wood, a naturally more efficient insulator than metal, can cut costs on heating and cooling by 30 to 50 percent.
Wood Is Safer in a Fire
While it sounds hard to believe, it’s absolutely true. Wood retains its structural strength at temperatures higher than 2000°F, while steel loses 80 percent of its strength at 1000°F. As it’s melting during a fire, steel bends and twists. According to many firefighters, it is extremely difficult and dangerous for them to stop a fire in a steel building and for people to escape. Firefighters often use the term running time, which is the amount of time they have to get everyone out of the building before the steel is too dangerous to work on.