When using wood for any construction, economic efficiency goes hand in hand with combating climate change. It is estimated that a wooden multi-storey building can act as a carbon sink for up to a hundred years.
WWF Finland's CEO, secretary general Liisa Rohweder explains why the type of build and materials used can have a significant impact on carbon dioxide emissions:
"A hugely beneficial aspect of wood construction is that each cubic metre of wood used contains about one tonne of carbon dioxide that has been extracted out of the atmosphere by the tree. The longer the building is in use, the longer the carbon stays out of the atmosphere."
A carbon sink is anything that absorbs more carbon than it releases as carbon dioxide. European forests are currently a net carbon sink as they take in more carbon than they emit.
Today, wood is commonly used for constructing private houses, but in the future it will be used more extensively in the world's major cities for extensions to multi-storey buildings. Metsä Wood's executive vice president Esa Kaikkonen outlines the reasons why wood is the ideal construction material:
"At Metsä Group all our wood comes from sustainably managed forests, and its origin is always known. As a building material it already has proven credentials. As the demand for new and extension construction increases, wood offers the benefit of faster build times, lightness of the final structure, and the sustainability of the material."
Wood for construction
Esa Kaikkonen explains that over the last 10 years, trends in construction have resulted in a doubling of the amount of excavated building materials such as steel and concrete:
"These non-renewable building materials is creating significant land use issues worldwide – both direct and indirect influences."
Both Rohweder and Kaikkonen acknowledge the importance of sustainable forest management and use, as Rohweder explains:
"Although wood is renewable, it is still a finite resource. Its use must be on a sustainable basis and should be used for the highest value-added products. Construction is the best use of wood".
Modern and cosy living with wood
WWF Finland's Liisa Rohweder and Metsä Wood's Esa Kaikkonen met to discuss a wooden construction development on the border of Helsinki and Vantaa, in the Honkasuo area. The planning of the development has taken into account a variety of ecological urban living needs combined with delivering warm and comfortable living environments. It was recognised that wood was the best material to fulfil the criteria.
Honkasuo is a good example of how renewable wood offers innovative products and lightweight solutions for building efficiency. In addition, its ability to act as a carbon sink helps to mitigate climate change. The construction company involved in this development is Reponen Oy, whose managing director, Mika Airaksela, fully understands the benefits of wood construction;
"The total construction timescale at Honkasuo will be 12 months. If the houses were made of concrete, we would need to allow an additional 3–4 months for drying. The construction phase is also faster as many of the wooden elements are precision made offsite making for smoother and quicker installation."
Metsä Wood's Esa Kaikkonen explains that the materials for Honkasuo come from Metsä Wood's two Kerto LVL mills, Lohja and Punkaharju, in Finland.
"Product development and cooperation between different parties plays a key role in promoting wood construction, which is why we work with developers such as Reponen. Equally important is working closely with the relevant authorities as construction practices vary in different parts of Finland and around the world."
Metsä Wood's executive vice president Esa Kaikkonen shows Metsä Wood's products to WWF Finland's secretary general Liisa Rohweder and communications director Anne Brax. Also present at the Honkasuo construction site Reponen Oy's managing director Mika Airaksela and Metsä Group's sustainability and corporate affair's senior vice president Riikka Joukio.