“Wood is a great construction material that is durable, beautiful, sustainable and renewable, particularly when it is sourced from well-managed forests and mills,” says Cobus Lourens from wooden window and door manufacturer, Swartland.
He says that forests help the earth to sequestrate carbon dioxide, while providing the raw materials for a range of popular timber products: “Timber is a wonderful product drawn from the natural ecological cycle and its properties make it an excellent insulator that is aesthetically pleasing in any building.”
Another factor to consider is the fact that the direct and indirect energy consumed to harvest, transport timber, and to manufacture timber products (also known as embodied energy), is comparatively low when compared to other joinery materials, such as aluminium, steel and uPVC.
Since its inception, Swartland has been committed to environmental preservation and this concept begins at the source. Swartland only sources its hardwood from forests where sustainable harvesting measures are used and it only those mills that abide by strictly controlled sustainability regulations. With regards to pine, Swartland sources pine from forests that are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and this helps to promote environmentally responsible and strategic harvesting so the forests remain sustainable.
Swartland is careful to use every part of the harvested logs by cutting the timber to predetermined sizes and eliminating process waste, explains Lourens: “The best wood cuts from the tree are used to create the finest quality windows and doors. Other grade cuts are used in wood laminate products, and that which does not get used in production is used as fuel for the boilers that kiln-dry Swartland’s timber. Shavings and sawdust are sold on to local farmers for chicken bedding. Off-cuts are used to support cut timber during drying. Virtually nothing is wasted.”
All Swartland’s timber products are built to perform. The timber it uses to manufacture its products is dried by the company’s own computer-controlled kilns to an optimal mean of 8% moisture content to eliminate the possibility of contraction. “This unique process increases the quality, stability, durability and performance of the end product,” says Lourens.
Swartland continuously tests its products to ensure that they are compliant with all the required National Building Regulations. In order to ensure that its windows and doors are compliant with the SANS 613 and 204 (Fenestration Products) Mechanical Performance Criteria, its innovative Ready-2-Fit range of pre-sealed and pre-glazed windows and doors have been tested for deflection, structural strength, water-resistance, air-tightness, operating forces, and the best possible energy efficiency. As a result, all Swartland’s Ready-2-Fit windows and doors have unique mechanical property values, from A1 to A4, assigned to them.
Forestry is an import source of employment for the people of Africa and Swartland is playing a positive role in ensuring that communities responsible for farming and harvesting trees continue to thrive. Lourens says that Swartland’s “think long term” approach ensures that everyone wins: “Swartland can produce top quality, sustainable and environmentally-friendly products made from raw materials drawn from forests, while providing employment to many.
“This lies at the heart of Swartland’s overall success,” he adds.
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