Brimstone was shortlisted by the Alliance of Sustainable Building Products for the Product of the Year Award 2023.
The ASPB has 'six pillars of sustainability' that the judges of the award will consider. We've shared some notes & links below, about how we think Brimstone performs against these six pillars.
Please wish us luck!
1. Health & Wellbeing
The use of timber in buildings has been demonstrated to reduce stress and boost wellbeing. Natural materials can stimulate the same sense of wellbeing that we get when we’re strolling in the woods. Choosing local woods can directly benefit local woodlands, which in turn benefits the health of our community.
By choosing local wood, we can help support and sustain local woodland. Selling timber to sawmills provides funds for woodland management, for replanting and regenerative forestry. We’ve learned from talking with foresters how valuable this income stream can be. A thriving woodland improves our local landscape.
Short film: Wood for the Trees part 4 on the Health Benefits of Trees (presented by Vastern Timber MD Tom Barnes) vastern.co.uk/wood-for-the-trees-watch-part-4-of-our-series/
2. Resource Efficiency
Customers want durable timber cladding that has a clean, crisp look. We wanted to find a way to use local wood - to help fund local woodlands, improve woodland management, reduce timber imports and road miles, and help UK woodlands to thrive.
We developed Brimstone as a local alternative to imported timber cladding. We source most of our timber from within 100 miles of our sawmills, and all the wood used for Brimstone was grown in Britain. We work with local woodlands that we know are managed well, appropriately certified, and with management plans in place.
We want to see local timber used for the long term, locking in the carbon for decades - instead of seeing it burned or chipped. By using thermal modification we can put timbers that are not naturally durable (such as poplar, ash & sycamore) to long-term use in construction.
Wood Back Stories: More information about where our wood comes from:
3. Whole Life Carbon
We don’t shout about being carbon neutral or sustainable because these terms aren’t honest or useful. However, the Environmental Product Declaration for Brimstone demonstrates that from harvesting a tree to finally disposing of Brimstone cladding at the end of its useful life (ModulesA1 – C4) 1 M2 of 20 x 145mm Brimstone cladding creates 8 Kg of CO2e(1) To put that into context: 1m2 of brick-faced Precast Concrete Cladding creates 122 kg C02e(2)
(1) CO2e* means Carbon dioxide plus other greenhouse gases (2) britishprecast.org
We commissioned a carbon audit of Vastern Timber in 2022, with results due shortly, which will direct us towards further carbon savings.
4. Ethics & Transparency
Brimstone has an important mission at its heart. The challenge was to find ways to create bigger and better woodlands, funded by sales of local wood.
Vastern Timber has worked with local wood since 1904 and as a company we know it’s vital to support local woodland. We have published a Manifesto and a plan to support local woodland, as part of our membership of ‘Business Declares,’ the network acknowledging the climate crisis. We are in the process of auditing emissions, and will honestly report progress on our plan to reduce emissions and waste.
And we donate 1% of turnover to support projects that help woodlands thrive.
Find out more, and how to apply:
5. Technical performance
During the thermal modification process, we heat wood to over 200 °C. This alters the cell structure and delivers a very low moisture level. Once modified, the wood can no longer absorb water, which makes it resistant to decay and a lot less likely to move and distort.
The resulting timber has a crisp appearance. It weathers evenly, and will last without requiring treatment for many decades.
Case study: Lagom. This project achieved 98/100 Energy Performance Certificate
“During my travels in Scandinavia, I was always drawn to the wonderful wooden houses there, and how they show the ageing of the wood. It was that image that drew me towards the Brimstone poplar. The fact that it doesn’t require any maintenance, at least not during my lifetime, was another added bonus"
6. Social Value
Supporting local woodlands was always a key goal for Brimstone.
Since 2022 we have donated 1% of turnover towards projects that help woodlands thrive.
We've helped to fund Shared Earth Learning forest school for teenagers not in training or work, Future Trees Trust Progeny trials to discover the best sycamore seed sources (pictured below) and a film from Evolving Forests film about community forestry (coming soon).
We also support the Paradise Wood mapping project. Find out more in our short film about this amazing initiative from Earth Trust and Sylva Foundation. Youtube: Paradise Wood
ASPB Product of the Year - Winner to be announced!
The winner will be announced in the spring of 2023. Find out more on the ASBP website.
This beautiful renovation project is one of a kind. Once an old threshing barn, it has been transformed into a family home, studio and wildlife haven by landscape architect and owner Toby Diggens.
It’s not standard practice to use local wood - but we’re on a mission to change that.