A consortium of 21 European* companies and organisations has been formed with the aim of making timber the material of choice formulti-storey buildingsinstead of steel and concrete. Partners include universities and technical institutes as well as companies from different parts of the construction supply chain, ranging from building materials and design to finished structures. End users, politicians and local European communities will also contribute to increase an understanding of how wood can be accepted as the key building material of the 21stcentury. Ergodomus is proud to be a member of this important grouping and is involved in 5 out of the total ten work packages that comprise the project.
Armed with €10m in EU funding, the aim over the next four years is to remove barriers to timber construction by developing standard, industrialised timber building systems, while documenting the environmental, economic and social benefits. The group believes timber could be used to build the estimated 1.6 million new apartment units needed every year across Europe.
According to project coordinator Niels Morsing of the Danish Technological Institute, the partners wish to “take multi-storey wood buildings mainstream. Our goal is simple: to make wood the common choice of material for construction of multi-storey buildings. We’re not trying to create the world’s tallest wood building. We’re trying to maximise our impact by targeting wood-based building systems for 3-10 storey buildings, where European demand is highest.”
Morsing believes building with timber will drastically reduce the industry’s CO2 emissions, not least by cutting the need for concrete and steel, the production of which is polluting and energy intensive. “Since wood is significantly lighter than, for example, concrete, the need for heavy transportation in the building process is reduced and you can build more storeys and gain more square meters in areas where ground conditions limit the weight of the building. So, there are not only environmental reasons but also economic arguments for increasing the use of wood in construction.”
As a renewable resource, trees also sequester CO2 from the atmosphere, meaning buildings can double as useful carbon sinks. Timber may also hold the key to big productivity gains in construction, facilitating faster erection, lighter materials, easier transport and assembly, high prefabrication potential, and a silent and cleaner working environment.
Entitled ‘Build-in-Wood’, the initiative also involves end users, politicians, and local communities in the push to gain widespread acceptance of wood as a building material. This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No 862820 and the project runs until August 2023.
*UK timber specialist Waugh Thistleton Architects is the sole UK member of the group. Canadian construction group EllisDon is also a member.