Wood construction can contribute to climate change mitigation, as it has a lower fossil footprint than conventional concrete. Comparative life cycle assessment (LCA) studies often report a 30-50% emission reduction potential for wood-frame multi-story buildings. However, this comparison concerns fossil-based emissions only. The overall climate change mitigation potential of wood construction is contingent on the net fossil and biogenic emissions over time, as well as various market assumptions. The presentation outlines the mechanisms for the climate impact of wood construction and discusses ways for optimizing the climate benefit in line with Paris Agreement targets.
Generally, there is a trade-off between short and long-term net emissions in case of increased timber harvest, because the substitution impacts (avoided fossil emissions) and the wood product carbon storage are not large enough to compensate for the reduced forest carbon sink. However, increased demand does not necessarily lead to increased harvest, if wood cascading principles are applied or if part of the increasing demand is satisfied by reducing the use of wood in other applications. The presentation concludes by discussing the feasibility and scale of climate change mitigation with wood construction.
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Elias Hurmekoski is an Academy research fellow and adjunct professor at the University of Helsinki, Department of Forest Sciences. He is a forest economist, and has worked on a broad range of topics related to forest product markets, climate change mitigation, and forest sector foresight. His current research focuses on providing state-of-the-art estimates for the substitution impacts of wood use.
The second international Drivers for Wood Construction event will be held in Joensuu 15.-16.5.2023 with the theme Holistic Approach Towards Sustainable Wood Construction.
Drivers of Wood Construction 2023 event organized by the Karelia University of Applied Sciences
in cooperation with Natural Resources Institute Finland, University of Eastern Finland and European Forest Institute.
Main Partners and Sponsor
Ministry of the Environment, Wood Building Programme