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Södra's cross-laminated timber reduces carbon footprint by up to 80 percent

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) from the Swedish forest owners association Södra has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the market. A CLT frame can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 percent compared with a similar concrete frame, according to a new and third-party reviewed Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) from Södra.

Cross-laminated timber (CLT) from the Swedish forest owners association Södra has one of the lowest carbon footprints in the market. A CLT frame can reduce carbon emissions by up to 80 percent compared with a similar concrete frame, according to a new and third-party reviewed Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) from Södra (photo courtesy Södra).

According to the Swedish National Board of Housing, Building, and Planning, the building sector accounts for about one-fifth of national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. In a bid to reduce the climate impact from the building sector in everything that is built, a new Act on Climate Declarations for Buildings will come into force in January 2022.

Climate declarations are part of a shift towards reduced climate impact from buildings from a life-cycle perspective and this new declaration aims to drive developments towards more sustainable construction.

Framing a lower footprint

The frame is normally the part of a building with the greatest climate impact. On average, it accounts for 45 percent of the climate footprint when constructing apartment buildings with four to eight stories.

Södra’s recently published Environmental Product Declaration (EPD) demonstrates that this figure can be substantially reduced by using cross-laminated timber (CLT). CLT is the only renewable material that can be used to construct high-rise buildings and Södra’s CLT produces a climate footprint of 34 kg carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2eq) per m3.

This could correspond to a reduction in the climate impact of up to 80 percent compared with a standard concrete frame, depending on how much CLT is used. Few other construction products around the world can compare with such a low carbon footprint figure.

The figure shows that Södra’s CLT has some of the lowest carbon emissions in the market and this is true across Sweden as we can offer fossil-free transportation, said Jörgen Hermansson, President of Södra Building Systems.

A fossil-free value chain makes all the difference

Södra’s CLT is composed of planed timber that is finger-jointed and glued together into lamellas. The lamellas are then stacked crosswise, which produces a solid block of CLT. There are currently a number of CLT manufacturers and suppliers in Europe – but none has the same conditions as Södra, with its fossil-free operations.

The low climate impact of our CLT is confirmation of our strong and dedicated sustainability efforts across the value chain. The difference is due to our fossil-free nurseries, sustainably managed forests, biofuel transportation, and fossil-free sawmills and production facilities, explained Jörgen Hermansson.

The interest in and demand for CLT is growing rapidly, in part due to the forthcoming Act on Climate Declarations for Buildings.

The new act on climate declarations will enable a reduction in carbon emissions, supported by the use of forest products as construction materials. The trend for CLT is highly positive. Demand in the market is currently greater than capacity, said Urban Blomster, Business Developer at Södra Building Systems.

The Environmental Product Declaration is available on www.epd-norge.no.

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