Published 7 November 2017 by Jessika Szyber
With growing concern for global energy use, carbon emissions and non-reusable or non-degradable waste – we need greater cooperation throughout the construction industry to promote the use of low-carbon and renewable construction materials.
The construction value chain involves many integral stakeholders from educators and city planners to developers, contractors, architects, suppliers and consultants. Sharing knowledge and collectively learning by doing is essential to make the construction industry more sustainable.
The benefits of wood – more than just low-carbon
Cleaner, safer and more efficient, wooden building constructions can also help to reduce carbon emissions in expanding cities and communities. The manufacture of timber, for example, produces over 97% less CO2 than steel . At the same time, wooden buildings store carbon throughout the whole lifecycle.
Wooden elements can additionally benefit the construction process by reducing construction time, site waste and noise. Logistical costs can be trimmed down as timber weighs a quarter than that of reinforced concrete, which allows timber to be transported by fewer trucks or even by rail or boat to reduce transport-related emissions.
Cooperation and experience feedback
Despite the advantages of wood, there is still a general lack of awareness in the construction industry – not just of what is possible with wood, but also the perceived risks. Here, Stora Enso has taken a key role in bringing the different stakeholders together, and sharing knowledge and experience from wooden construction throughout the value chain.
For example, we have developed open source “Building Systems” guidance and tools for the construction industry, using components such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL). This guidance includes how building regulations for fire and acoustics can be met in different markets. Our tools also enable cost analyses and provide architectural guidelines for up to 12-storey buildings.
A dynamic dialogue is further promoted through “experience feedback”, which is provided to help stakeholders to refine and optimise project designs and processes based on the experiences from others in the building ecosystem. Universities are also important in raising awareness of the potential of engineered wood among our builders of the future.
From my perspective, this kind of cross-sector cooperation has the potential to revolutionise the construction industry – to not only promote sustainability, but to reduce costs on construction projects and streamline construction processes. A win-win for all of us.
 Source: VTT Technology 115 and the European ECO2 project, 2013