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European project to advance the use of wood in multi-storey buildings to combat climate change

Article

07-10-2019

European project to advance the use of wood in multi-storey buildings to combat climate change

The construction sector is one of Europe’s largest CO2-emmittors. A European innovation project targets reduction of CO2 emissions through increased use of wood for multi-storey buildings.

The Alexandra Institute conducts user studies in order to generate new knowledge about what it is like to live or work in a wooden building.

Widespread construction of multi-storey wood buildings could significantly reduce CO2 emissions from the construction sector. An international cooperation wants the construction industry to rediscover wood as the ideal building material. A consortium, consisting of 21 partners has been awarded funding by Horizon 2020 to deliver a pan European innovation project ’Build-in-Wood’. The 10 million € project has the objective of significantly increasing the use of wood for multi-storey buildings.

- We are very proud to have won this project in strong competition with major players from traditional timber-producing countries like Sweden and Finland, says project coordinator and centre manager Niels Morsing, Danish Technological Institute. 

Nine-storey wood building, Kajstaden in Sweden. Photo: C.F. Møller.​

Competence development

This is a great opportunity to build on our long-term strategy to increase the use of wood in the construction sector. We will continue to maintain and develop our expertise in wood structures and materials in Denmark, while at the same time establishing an international profile in this area, says Niels Morsing. 

The construction sector is one of Europe’s largest CO2 contributors. Years of targeted legislation has significantly reduced emissions from operational energy of European buildings, however the significant contribution from the production of building materials and the building process has gone below the radar. But there are easy fruits to harvest in terms of CO2 emission reductions by increasing the use of wood in construction. Trees absorb CO2 from the atmosphere when they grow and store it in the form of wood. When we build with wood, we can use our buildings and cities as large carbon storing devices. 

Rediscovering wood

A number of barriers currently hinder the spread and adoption of multi-storey wood construction projects in Europe and beyond. These barriers include a general lack of industry knowhow and experience with wood as a construction material. The construction sector prefers familiar concrete and steel solutions and relates wood buildings with high risk – especially regarding finances and security. The task for the project is to remove these barriers by developing standardised and industrialised solutions for multi-storey wood buildings, while documenting the environmental, economic, and social effects and consequences of the solutions.

Our goal is simple. To make wood the preferred choice of material for construction of multi-storey buildings. We’re not trying to create the world’s tallest wood building, we’re trying to maximise our impact by targeting wood-based building systems for 3-10 storey buildings, where European demand is highest, says project coordinator Niels Morsing from the Danish Technological Institute.

High demand for multi-storey buildings

Due to urbanisation and the continuous renewal of the European building stock, new multi-story buildings are in high demand. This creates a huge potential for increasing the use of wood in construction – European demand for construction of apartments is estimated at 1.6 million units annually between 2020 and 2050.

International experience shows that building with wood is incredibly fast compared to other materials. Since wood is significantly lighter than for example concrete, the need for heavy transportation in the building process is reduced and you can build more stories and gain more square meters in areas where ground conditions limit the weight of the building. So, there are not only environmental reasons but also economic arguments for increasing the use of wood in construction.

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About Build-in-Wood

The consortium partners represent the entire value chain from building materials to the finished structure.

In addition to designing building systems, the project involves end users, politicians, and local European communities to increase the knowledge and acceptance of wood as a building material.

Build-in-Wood receives funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and runs for four years from September 2019 to August 2023.

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