Build in Wood – Sustainability, durability and long-term ambitions

04/06/2018 Emmilie Hansen

By Henriikka Taipale, graduate from the Bachelor of Architectural Technology and Construction
Management program at Copenhagen School of Design and Technology (KEA). Original post

The second conference day begun with a dive into the sustainability factors related to building with wood. With building and operating buildings amounting to 50% of all energy consumed in Denmark, there certainly is room for improvement. Reforestation, sustainable management of forests and maximizing the substitution of more emission intense wood products are few of the solutions mentioned.

United Nations forecasts show that demand for wood products is estimated to increase considerably by 2030. In order to answer to this demand, it is important to protect and manage existing forests and resources better. In fact, China, India and USA have the greatest net gain in annual foresting area worldwide.

With the example of the world’s first tall timber building, Murray Grove, built in the UK in 2009, we learned about the great savings when comparing a timber-structure project to a traditional concrete or steel construction. The 9-storey residential unit was built 20% faster, with 80% fewer deliveries to the construction site and was 80% lighter in volume.

Another important aspect discussed was the durability of wood. Many of us desire a transparent coating to protect wood surfaces that leaves the grain visible — but this has proven nearly impossible to provide. Decades of research have shown that durable clear coatings which offset no harmful substances last a few years at best. Some promising results from Canada, however, might soon offer a new solution to the problem.

To wrap up the fruitful conference and leave the audience in anticipation, the world’s perhaps most ambitious timber building project was introduced by its Japanese planners. The W350 building, which marks the 350th anniversary of Sumimoto Forestry, is planned for completion in 2041. The building is designed to utilize 185 000 m3 of engineered timber with a braced steel supporting structure and the project budget is estimated at $6 billion. We shall see – in 20 years’ time!

Build in Wood offered a diverse and wide-ranging program filled with interesting talks and will hopefully continue to be the meeting point for the wood building specialists in Denmark.

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