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No waste – wiser and more sustainable building with engineered wood products

The construction sector continues consuming globally around one-third of the planet´s already limited resources. Building with solid wood products and engineered wood products (EWP) such as Kerto LVL (laminated veneer lumber) enables the vitally important change towards sustainable building recent studies suggest.

An engineered wood product (EWP) made by gluing sheets of veneer together, Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is structural composite lumber typically used for beams, headers, and edge-forming material as it is stronger and more form stable and lighter than lumber and lighter than glue-laminated (glulam) beams (photo courtesy Metsä Wood).

An engineered wood product (EWP) made by gluing sheets of veneer together, Laminated Veneer Lumber (LVL) is structural composite lumber typically used for beams, headers, and edge-forming material as it is stronger and more form stable and lighter than lumber and lighter than glue-laminated (glulam) beams (photo courtesy Metsä Wood).

According to a report ”Resource efficiency in the building sector“, jointly published in 2014 by ECORYS Nederland BV and Copenhagen Resource Institute, the construction sector continues consuming globally around one-third of the planet´s already limited resources.

Our planet cannot keep up with our consumption. We use materials faster than the Earth can produce new ones. We generate more waste than the Earth is able to absorb, Matti Kuittinen, architect and researcher from Aalto University in Finland points out.

Within the building materials sector, the production of steel and aluminum alone require around 51 percent and concrete production 17 percent of the energy for producing all building materials globally the report finds.

We need a shift from unsustainable consumption patterns without delay. Increasing the use of sustainably sourced wood in construction is a much-needed step in the right direction. As a co-benefit, non-renewable raw materials such as steel and cement, can be saved or used for more value-added purposes, said architect Kristoffer Tejlgaard from Atelier Kristoffer Tejlgaard.

Building with wood is material-wise

With the highest strength, wood is so light that buildings can be built with less sturdy foundations, which in turn requires less piling, construction materials and time. Replacing other frame materials with wood could improve the material efficiency of a building considerably.

According to a recent Aalto University study in Finland, the timber-framed building is the most material-efficient alternative, followed by a light-gauge steel frame.

When the frame is light, co-benefits are achieved along with the whole production and construction chain: the emissions created by manufacturing and transportation are smaller, and less energy is required for lifting the components at the building site. Lightness also enables a high degree of prefabrication as building elements and modules or even entire buildings can be manufactured off-site and transported to their final location. Time, money as well as environment is saved, said Ruben Dahl Hansen, CEO, Arca Nova Bolig AS.

After having served as a wooden product in a building, wood can be recycled into new wooden or hybrid products or for producing bioenergy.

The use of solid wood and engineered wood products such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL) in buildings and construction enables the storage of carbon for decades (photo coutresy Metsä Wood)..

The use of solid wood and engineered wood products (EWP) such as laminated veneer lumber (LVL) in buildings and construction enables the storage of carbon for decades (photo courtesy Metsä Wood).

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