Timber buildings on the rise

67%. That’s how high the percentage of new wood-based construction in Växjö was in 2016. Anna Tenje, Chair of Växjö Borough Council, explains how Växjö has become an internationally renowned wooden city.

Växjö welcomes delegations from all over the world interested in learning more about building high-rises in wood. How come?

– We've been working hard to spread the word about how climate-friendly and economically viable it is to build in wood. And now building in wood is becoming more popular all over the world. In the 1990s, we built our first wood-based multi-storey residential building – six floors altogether. Since then, we have built many more.

What kind of questions do you get from overseas visitors?

– A common one is: Can a wooden building really be fireproof? Our answer is that wood is more stable than steel at high temperatures. Another common question is whether building in wood is truly good for the environment?

And what do you say?

– Quite often, we need to explain that we plant more trees than we use, and that we make use of the entire tree, generating biofuel from tops and branches that are not used for construction products or paper. And naturally we explain that wood is a renewable raw material that stores carbon dioxide. If you've grown up in a country where the forests have been burnt down and devastated, it is difficult to understand just how sustainable our Swedish forests are.

What is the key to Växjö's success?

– I believe it's having the raw material and forest-related industries right here, as well as having political coherence. It's know-how and action coming together as one.