The world needs more building in wood

Susanne Rudenstam at a COP22 forum on sustainable cities.

Susanne Rudenstam, Träbyggnadskansliet
Photo: Anders Roth

"Over the next 40 years, the world needs to build as many new homes as have been built since mankind came to being. If we don't change the way we build our homes, the impact on the climate will be enormous."

So said Susanne Rudenstam, Construction Director of the Swedish Wood Building Council, at a COP22 Nordic-Moroccan forum on sustainable cities. The forum was held on the 12th of November in Marrakesh.

Susanne Rudenstam continued: "In order to reach the ambitious goals in the Paris Agreement, which entered into force on the 4th of November 2016, we need to increase the construction of housing in wood."

Wood is the only renewable building material. Compared to any other material on the market, its use also entails radically lower emissions of greenhouse gases. Over the past decade, modern wood construction has achieved major breakthroughs in Sweden and many other countries. The reason is simple. Wood is climate friendly and, thanks to its lightness, facilitates efficient construction.

A 2014 study by the Royal Academy of Engineering (IVA) in Stockholm showed that house construction in Sweden generates the same volume of greenhouse gases as Sweden's entire road transport sector.

"We need to focus more on the construction phase and the materials used to build our new homes. If we don't, reaching our climate goals will be tough. Besides using less energy in the construction phase, wood also serves as a carbon sink throughout its life cycle," stated Susanne Rudenstam.

Modern building in wood is an important part of the growing bioeconomy. Increasing construction with wood will rapidly give the most direct climate benefit.

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