Well, in reality, that is a bit of journalistic licence. In the vote that followed The Great Materials Debate at the Ecobuild exhibition this week, there might have been a few engineers, builders and other assorted construction professionals among the voters, and the architects couldn’t definitively be said to represent the views of every architect in the country. Having said that, after three hours of presentations by experts from the timber, steel, concrete, plastic and masonry sectors, each discussing the environmental merits of their material itself and the buildings built with it, the concluding audience vote went timber’s way.

The argument for wood was cogently put by TRADA’s Paul Newman and his “expert witness” Jonathan Fovargue of timber specialist contractor Eurban Construction.

Dr Newman focused on the environmental benefits of timber through its life cycle; from the tree’s capacity to lock up carbon, through wood’s use as a low embodied energy construction material to create durable, fuel-efficient buildings, to its capacity to be recycled or incinerated to generate heat and power.

Mr Fovargue looked at wood’s suitability for modern methods of construction.

The other encouraging aspect of the Great Debate, beside the fact that wood won, was that the vote was really a bit of fun. The various spokespeople focused on their materials’ merits without kicking lumps out of the others. I may have indulged in it slightly by crowing over timber’s victory, but the antagonism that has often typified such discussions before wasn’t there. The real pluses that came out of the event were not only that wood’s environmental image in construction is good, but also that the days of it being knocked by “rival” materials may be drawing to a close.

This more positive approach will also clearly be taken by the new UK Green Building Council, which launched at Ecobuild. Its aim is to set a new sustainable construction agenda in the UK and it wants all the materials sectors to sign up.