A new study has provided a strong argument in favor of why all buildings should be made of wood as part of any country’s efforts to fight climate change.
Although it may not be as obvious as with other sectors, but the construction industry actually plays a major part in the climate crisis.
Buildings are responsible for roughly 40% of all greenhouse gas (GHG emissions), with nearly a quarter of those resulting from the production and use of the building materials.
With that said, the materials we use to make buildings are of critical importance in the fight against climate change.
Scientists recently conducted a meta-study that revealed how a large-scale switch to timber could help significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Wood naturally sequesters CO2 from the atmosphere.
And according to the study, in Europe alone wooden buildings have the potential of sequestering 420 million metric tons of CO2 over the next 20 years.
That is the equivalent of emissions from 108 coal plants or 71 million households in a year.
If timber buildings can be spread out to a global scale, they hold great potential for becoming long-lasting carbon sinks.
Furthermore, this would automatically cut down the emissions typically associated with the production of steel and concrete – two of the most commonly used construction materials.
In fact, these two alone contribute to about 15% of the world’s CO2 emissions.
Hence, a shift to wood would make for a very meaningful emissions reduction.
Of course, this potential solution does not come without challenges, with the supply of timber being a very prominent one.
Illegal logging is a known and very serious issue in different places around the world that will require dealing with to ensure sustainable forestry practices.
On the bright side, though, one of the study’s co-authors, Ali Amiri of Aalto University in Finland is optimistic that wood is already becoming a more viable alternative to conventional building materials.
Technology has allowed for timber to be used in significantly taller structures than in the past, including also mid-rise buildings with over a dozen stories.
And as a former representative of the building industry, Amiri is already witnessing the changes in the sector and recognizing the potential that wood has as the building material of the future.