What is Western Red Cedar?
Western Red Cedar (WRC) is a softwood native to British Columbia, Canada and some western states of the United States of America, including Washington and Oregon. The WRC available on the Australian market is typically sourced from Canada.
In construction, WRC is prized for its versatility and dimensional stability. It is not prone to shrinkage nor swelling making it ideal for external applications such as cladding, roof shingles and windows. It is also visually attractive with a rich, dark colour that makes it a popular choice for internal wall linings and joinery. The performance and sustainability benefits of WRC are discussed in more detail over the page.
Against this backdrop, Australian designers and specifiers are under growing pressure to identify and utilise design solutions that deliver elevated energy efficiency and sustainability outcomes without compromising performance and aesthetics. This can be achieved through a careful and informed specification process with an emphasis on high performing, fit-for-purpose building materials that are inherently sustainable, renewable and long-lasting.
In this whitepaper, we take a closer look at Western Red Cedar and how its use as a cladding material can enable the above objectives to be met with ease. Specifically, we look at the material’s benefits in terms of energy efficiency, code compliance and overall sustainability value, in addition to its high degree of design flexibility.
“As one of the lowest density softwoods available on the market, Western Red Cedar offers insulation values over and above most common building materials.”
The key benefits of Western Red Cedar
In general, timber is an outstanding insulator, especially lightweight and low-density species. As one of the lowest density softwoods available on the market, WRC offers insulation values superior to most common building materials. With an R-Value of 0.225 per 25mm of thickness, WRC is approximately seven times more thermally efficient than a brick of comparable thickness and also outperforms concrete and steel.
In this context, utilising certified sustainable timber products, such as cladding, in construction has several environmental benefits. Firstly, sustainably-managed forests take an active role in protecting forest carbon stores from the damaging effects of wildfires. Secondly, harvested timber that is then processed into cladding, locks carbon into the building product providing longterm carbon storage.
With an Australian durability rating for above ground use of Class 2, WRC is particularly durable, providing reasonably high levels of resistance to decay and termite attack. Class 2 timbers are suitable for cladding environments with a life expectancy of 15-40 years.
AN ENVIRONMENTALLY SOUND CHOICE
In general, timber contributes to buildings with lower embodied energy. “Embodied energy” is the energy consumed in providing materials for building construction, including extraction, processing and manufacturing of building products. Products with high embodied energy result in high levels of greenhouse gas emissions and fossil fuel consumption.