11 June 2018 | Reading 9 mins.

Making our cities sustainable: building with wood

Silvia Melegari
Secretary-General of the European Organisation for the Sawmill Industry (EOS)

Silvia Melegari, Secretary-General of the European Organisation for the Sawmill Industry (EOS)

With forecasts predicting that 75% of the world’s population will be living in urban areas by 2050, it is paramount that cities become more sustainable – this means using more sustainably-sourced wood building products.

The building sector contributes to 42% of final energy consumption, 35% of total GHG emissions, 50% of extracted materials, and 30% of water consumption in the European Union. Construction and housing therefore play a fundamental role when enhancing societal goals for sustainable growth and citizen wellbeing.

Today, more than ever, we must find ways to reduce the pressure on our planet’s environment and our resources: wood has a key role in making cities more sustainable. The construction sector is very resource intensive and contributes to a large share of greenhouse gas emissions. Increasing the use of renewable materials, mainly wood, in buildings, would increase the bioeconomy.

The Carbon Footprint of Products

The quantity of CO2 and other greenhouse gases (GHGs) released per unit of product during a product’s manufacturing and, in some cases, end use and disposal, is referred to as its ‘‘carbon footprint’’. Increases in GHGs in the atmosphere are considered the primary factor in global warming.

Wood has played an important role in the history of civilization. Humans have used it for fuel, building materials, furniture, paper, tools, weapons, and more. Wood is undeniably one of the oldest building materials, with evidence showing homes built over 10,000 years ago using timber. Europe’s Neolithic long house (built in 6,000 BC) is certainly an example.

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