Sustainable building and resource efficiency with wood

As the construction sector continues consuming globally around one third of the planet´s already limited resources, the shift to more sustainable building and closed material loops becomes increasingly necessary. Within the building materials sector, the production of steel and aluminium alone require around 51% and concrete production around 17% of the energy for producing all building materials globally.

“We need a shift from unsustainable consumption patterns without delay. Increasing the use of sustainably sourced wood in construction is a much-needed step in the right direction. Wood is currently the only renewable building material that we can create load bearing structures from. As a co-benefit, non-renewable raw materials such as steel and cement, can be saved or used for more value-added purposes. Furthermore, studies have shown that our forest management has potential to increase its biodiversity while still creating biomass for the industry, storing CO2 and producing oxygen. Therefore, wood is currently the only full range building material that has the potential to become truly sustainable and probably the best answer for solving emission problems in the construction industries,” says architect Kristoffer Tejlgaard from Atelier Kristoffer Tejlgaard in Denmark.

The natural cycle of wood

The natural cycle of wood 
 

Kerto® LVL follows the same cycle of renewability

The natural cycle of wood begins with capturing needed ingredients, such as carbon, oxygen and hydrogen from the atmosphere and water. The cycle continues when wood is released to soil during decomposition or back to atmosphere when burned for carbon neutral bioenergy. The life cycle of an engineered wood product –  Kerto® LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) – expresses how one can play along with nature and lend the material for a long-term use from this never-ending cycle.

“From each cubic metre of timber logs, most is used to produce Kerto LVL. All the remaining fractions, such as saw-dust and chips, are used primarily for pulp and secondary bioenergy production. After serving as a wooden product in a building, the wood can be recycled into new wooden or hybrid products or for producing bioenergy,” Matti Kuittinen, architect and researcher from Aalto University, Finland, points out.

Wood buildings are material efficient

Values guide Metsä Group's operations 
 

Material efficiency is one of the key benefits of timber framed buildings

Increasing the use of wood brings several improvements to the resource efficiency of a building. One of the inherent material properties of wood is good weight-to-strength ratio. With the highest strength qualities, wood is so light that buildings can be built with less sturdy foundations, which in turn require less piling, construction materials and time.

Replacing other frame materials with wood could improve material efficiency of a building considerably. This taken into account, wood should always be considered as a true alternative in everything from structures to exteriors.

In fact, according to recent studies, timber framed building is the most material efficient alternative, followed by light-gauge steel frame.

More efficient construction chain

More efficient construction chain with wood elements 
 

Using wood products saves environment, time and money

The material efficiency of wood and its benefits are present along the whole production and construction chain.

“The emissions created by manufacturing and transportation are smaller, and less energy is required for lifting the components at the building site. The ease and flexibility of working with wood in the assembly line, and the lightness of the material, makes wood the perfect choice for highly prefabricated elements or modules that are delivered and assembled at the building site. The high degree of prefabrication reduces building and assembly time, and it enables weatherproof building fast – which is perfect for Scandinavia’s shifting, wet and unstable climate. Time, money as well as the environment is saved,” says CEO Ruben Dahl Hansen from Arca Nova Bolig AS in Norway.

Quick facts

Resource efficient building with wood 
 
  • ​To sustain our current consumption patterns, a carrying capacity of 1.6 planets Earths would be needed..
  • Construction sector consumes around 1/3 of the planet´s resources.
  • Steel and aluminum production require around 51%, and concrete around 17% of the energy used for producing all building material globally. 
  • Wood is light and strong – hence with the highest technical features, less construction work and material as well as transportation is needed, which turns into cost savings.

 

 

Architect, research manager Matti Kuittinen

​Matti Kuittinen is Research Manager and Architech in Aalto University, School of Arts, Design and Architecture. His research and lecturing work at Aalto University is focused on wood construction, carbon footprinting, LCA, energy efficiency and humanitarian aid.

Architect Kristoffer Tejlgaard

Kristoffer Tejlgaard has run his own studio since 2011, with a great focus on challenging the way we use wood in architecture today, both technologically and culturally.

Atelier Kristoffer Tejlgaard works to create functional, aesthetic and sustainable architecture with honest and rational construction principles and a natural integration of light and nature.

Watch Talking Wood video where Kristoffer talks about wood and sustainable architecture.

See also our reference story Dome of Visions 3.0

CEO of Arca Nova Ruben Dahl Hansen

​Ruben Dahl Hansen (MBE) is the CEO of Arca Nova Group in Norway. He has helped to lead and build their business from the start in 1998. Hansen is an advocate for sustainable and future proof building.

Arca Nova is working as a real estate developer and contractor and has broad building expertise using wooden house elements. They are now developing Verksbyen, a new green part in their hometown Fredrikstad with more than 1,500 new homes. All of it is built with their Future Living concept. It utilizes sun producing electrical and thermal solar energy, as well as smart house technology, passive house standard and low CO2 emissions.

Read more (in Norwegian):
https://www.arcanova.no/future-living

Video: Resource efficiency - The Metsä Way

Metsä Wood is a part of Metsä Group’s value chain, where the way of working is grounded in resource efficiency. It means that raw materials, energy and water is used wisely and so that as little as possible will go to waste. Renewable and 100% traceable wood coming from sustainably managed northern forests is Metsä Wood’s main raw material. Products made out of wood are recyclable and they can reduce the use of fossil raw materials.

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