Wood construction is the solution

Renewable and ecological, wood is an excellent construction material from the environmental perspective. By increasing its use, we can reduce the consumption of non-renewable natural resources and the carbon dioxide emissions of construction.

The world’s population will grow to 9 billion by 2050. At the same time, a billion people will move to cities, and the need for food, housing and various materials will increase.

In the future, we will have to be more responsible and make more from less. “We need long lasting and low emission solutions with which to meet increasing demand in construction,” says Jussi Björman, Director, Business Development, Construction, of Metsä Wood.

We need long lasting and low emission solutions with which to meet increasing demand in construction.



The current way to build causes a lot of emissions

In Europe, construction consumes more raw materials than any other industry – and the majority of this consumption is based on non-renewable natural resources.

“In terms of the climate, using renewable wood as a raw material is one of the best alternatives, because its environmental impact and energy consumption are small compared to brick, concrete, aluminium and steel,” says Björman.

When measured in weight, construction’s share of the consumption of non-renewable natural resources is as high as 50 per cent. In addition, the built environment causes a third of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions and consumes roughly 40 per cent of primary energy. “This is construction today, but it can no longer be that tomorrow,” says Matti Mikkola, Managing Director of the Federation of the Finnish Woodworking Industries.

Wood construction

Wood construction decisively reduces the consumption of natural resources

The member states of the EU aim to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. The achievement of this climate goal requires us to reduce the use of non-renewable natural resources in construction and to replace them with sustainable materials.

Wood can be classified as a low-energy construction material. “Further processing of wood requires only a little energy . Furthermore, the majority of the energy used in the production of wood products is obtained from the by-products of production, such as bark and sawdust,” says Björman.

“If all residential buildings in Europe were constructed from wood rather than concrete, the consumption of natural resources would decrease by as much as 70 per cent. At the same time, energy consumption during production and construction would decrease by 40 per cent and emissions by 60 per cent. For this reason, wood is the best choice,” says Mikkola.


The benefits of wood: speed and lightness

The weight and strength ratio of engineered wood products is world class. This is why wood lends itself to the production of lightweight and strong structures ideal for high and compact urban construction.

The lightness of wooden structures reduces the consumption of natural resources, as construction sites require less of other materials. “The foundations of a wooden building do not need to be as extensive as those of a concrete building. This reduces environmental load, since nowadays the foundations account for a large part of a building’s carbon footprint,” says Björman.

Light wooden structures also reduce transport loads, given that the amount of wood that can be transported in a single load is five-fold compared to concrete.

Prefabrication guarantees quality

The lightweight of wood enables the prefabrication of construction materials. “The work can be moved from the construction site to factory conditions. This means that most of the work can be carried out in dry and controlled conditions, so the high quality of the construction can be maintained throughout the process,” says Mikkola.

Prefabrication speeds up the construction process significantly, because the finished wooden modules can be assembled on site as precisely as Lego bricks. “A wooden high-rise can be assembled fully, roof included, in a matter of weeks, meaning that the time during which the construction site is at the mercy of the weather is very brief. This increases the quality of the construction to a significant degree,” adds Mikkola.


Read why is using wood a contribution to the environment