It is a question wich I do myself from the first exploratory bioarchitecture travels visiting Austria and Germany in the late ’90s, when yet in Italy there was few wooden houses. Strengths and weaknesses were gradually clarified.
1) the wood is green, while the concrete is not.
Ok if the wood has to come from Eastern European or Austrian forests. Even the aggregate for the cement no longer comes from our own quarries and rivers, but from Croatia and other countries. The cement takes a lot of energy for cooking, storing CO2 while growing the plant. To produce new one cubic meter of wood used between 8 and 30 kWh. For the cement between 150 and 200 kWh!
Using wood means encouraging reforestation and forest management, use concrete means to open quarries somewhere in the world, or worse alter the bed of rivers.
2) the wood is healthy, the concrete does not.
With due ifs and buts and all exceptions applicable, unless it is wood-life of Chernobyl is healthy, while the cement contains all sorts of additives and wastes such as MSW, and blast furnace dust, tire dust, etc. help lower the price. Obviously all the materials have then a release into the environment.
The wood breathes and also stabilizes the humidity environment.
3) Wood is energy efficiency, no concrete.
The wood is almost an insulating material, the cement not. It ‘so easy to make energy efficiency and thermal bridges are resolved only partially, while concrete buildings are all appropriately separated and isolated. Use wooden blocks saves expensive heat.
4) The timber construction methods allow to dry.
In the history of Italian construction has entrusted us to build too “wet”, where to plug any holes and escape was enough to throw some ‘concrete. cement is actually the material reacts to temperature changes by expanding and contracting, so the first seasonal cycle cracks and fissures affecting the air and water tightness of the housing, energy efficiency and goodbye.
5) the wood is ideal material for prefabrication.
Prefabricate means faster implementation times and safer quality results.
not for nothing, but if a loan of 200 thousand euros it cost me 6.00% interest a year, save one year is equivalent to saving € 12,000!
6) the wood is light and elastic.
It ‘s so much easier to achieve high standards of earthquake resistance, with elastic homes. While the cement must respond sovradimensionando structures so as to be stiff enough not to break. It ‘s the moral of the cane and oak in the storm.
Obviously there are also drawbacks.
Not surprisingly, the wooden building does not belong to our culture. The timber with respect to the clay and the lime has little thermal inertia, so necessary to stabilize the temperature of the housing and to avoid peaks in the summer heat and the use of air conditioners.
But here we are its solutions.
Although fire-resistant, and ensuring the security of duration for the escape time (what the law requires) is more likely to catch fire. Just then the house there is massive in polystyrene slabs, double walls, roof etc!
Ultimately there is no single answer for all and for all.
To each his own case and assess its needs.