Increasing the number of wooden apartment buildings globally would significantly reduce carbon emissions, according to a new international study.
Wooden houses with around 4-12 floors are the key. The researchers modeled how an increase in wood construction worldwide would affect land use and emissions. The study was published Nature Communications in the journal.
Migration from rural areas to cities has accelerated.
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In 2020, slightly more than half of the world’s population lived in cities. By the year 2100, it is possible that 80 percent of humanity will be urban dwellers.
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The researchers calculated development trajectories in which the population flowing into the cities would be settled in wooden apartment buildings instead of concrete apartment buildings. The planet would be spared about 106 gigatons of additional emissions by the year 2100 if 90 percent of the population moving to cities were housed in wooden apartment buildings.
The amount of emissions saved roughly corresponds to three years’ worth of carbon emissions in the world.
Wood is a renewable natural resource with the lowest carbon footprint of any building material.
In addition, trees absorb carbon dioxide from the atmosphere through assimilation. Trees also act as carbon stores, which is preserved even if the wood is chopped and used for construction.
Generally, steel and concrete are used as materials for apartment buildings. Their production causes about ten percent of the world’s carbon emissions.
A huge increase in wood construction would require a lot of new economic forest, the study suggests.
If 90 percent of the new city dwellers lived in wooden apartment buildings by the year 2100, it would require 200 percent more space for planted commercial forests.
The researchers remind us that cutting down natural forest and replacing it with commercial forest is harmful to biodiversity. Natural but unprotected forests could be at risk if timber construction became more common worldwide.
The researchers emphasize that the transition to wooden cities should be implemented carefully.
Space for an economic forest would have to be found elsewhere. One way could be to make farming more efficient so that food could be produced in smaller areas than at present. This would free up space for economic forests.
Source: Tiede by www.tiede.fi.
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