Sweden recently announced a new building project in their capital city: Wood City. This project will be the largest urban construction made almost entirely from timber. Timber has gained a great amount of attention in recent years when it comes to sustainable building materials. Sweden will likely create a domino effect in wood construction projects worldwide.
Timber, as we all know, comes from wood, which is a natural and regenerative material. The construction industry is a major contributor to CO2 emissions in today’s day and age. This sector typically heavily relies on steel and concrete, both resource-intensive materials to extract and manufacture. Therefore, efforts have been made to find low-carbon and energy-efficient materials. Timber seems to be a great alternative to steel and concrete, and it is finally making a comeback in construction.
Steel and concrete are nonrenewable resources, while wood sure is. Trees take a few years to a few decades to grow fully. Although deforestation is a pressing problem today in many countries of the world, sustainable forests are created and managed for timber production. These forests are maintained to mimic the natural cycle of wood and forests. It is always ensured that the forest is not depleted and that regeneration happens at a sustainable rate. Concrete and steel are made from finite materials that make up the Earth’s crust. There is no way to make the extraction of iron or cement sustainable or renewable. Also, the extraction process is highly resource-intensive since the materials are found in the Earth’s crust. Wood, on the other hand, is located on the surface of the Earth.
Timber will not only emit less emissions during its production process than concrete and steel, but it will also capture some excess carbon dioxide in the surrounding air. Trees are the lungs of the planet; this is well known. Since timber comes directly from trees, they have similar carbon-trapping properties. If construction relied on timber as much as concrete and steel, the construction sector would step down from its number one carbon emitter title.
For many reasons, wood building and housing would benefit the planet. Using natural and warm materials like wood would also positively impact the population. Incorporating timber in interior design has been known to decrease blood pressure and stress while increasing focus. Personally, I would much rather spend my day in a wooden house than in a cold concrete building! What would you choose?