Wood Products as Multifunctional Materials in Interiors

We spend 90% of our lives in buildings and as such our health and wellbeing is strongly influenced by the interiors we create in our homes, schools, offices and healthcare environments. Typically health and wellbeing has focused on measuring the volatile organic compounds (VOC) that are emitted from products used indoors and their impact on indoor air quality.  More recent concerted focus in the built environment on health and wellbeing of occupants and building users such as the biophilic office project is casting a much wider net to include indoor climate, lighting, aesthetics, acoustics and indirect connection to nature. As a material that can be used in numerous indoor applications (floors, walls, furniture) wood has some interesting ‘hidden’ qualities that are beginning to be understood beyond its normal functionality and fitness for purpose. These include the ability to mitigate spikes in indoor temperature and humidity by virtue of its hygrothermal mass and its contribution as a proxy for nature in the health and wellbeing benefits associated with biophilic design. By delivering health and wellbeing for building occupants and users it is possible to tap into spin off benefits of better business outcomes (offices) improved concentration (schools) and faster post-operative recovery rates (health care). This presentation will review international evidence for these ‘hidden’ qualities, review the biophilic office project, present findings from the recent collaborative Wood2New project, consider the standards (BREEAM, WELL, C2C) that may help deploy multifunctional material indoors and the future opportunities for wood and wood based products.