Wood construction brings climate benefits

Editorials by Mathias Fridholm

The event of the summer, for those interested in social development, is Almedalsveckan, a week full of political exchanges. Thousands of seminars are served up as a smörgåsbord for those hungry for opinions, and there is no lack of demand for debate and engagement. Last year’s most common theme was integration, but this year there were more than 700 events focusing on sustainability in one way or another. The Swedish Forest Industries Federation, the Swedish Wood Building Council and Swedish Wood were all present and the issue of sustainability was naturally a common thread of all the seminars we took part in.

The Swedish Forest Industries Federation was first off the blocks, presenting a study on the climate benefits provided by the forest industry and its products. Even the most cautious calculations indicate that the forests’ absorption of carbon dioxide and the positive effects achieved by replacing fossil-based materials, or materials with high carbon emissions, with wood or wood fibre-based materials are enormous. In fact, they are on such a scale that they almost equate to Sweden’s total emissions of carbon dioxide. There is often talk about how every little helps in solving the climate issue. In this case, however, we are talking about a huge mountain of climate benefit.

Building in wood is a key factor in maximising the potential of the forests’ climate benefit. Wooden buildings store carbon dioxide for long periods of time, while new trees replace the old ones, continuing the cycle of absorption. In addition, emissions from the manufacturing process are significantly lower for wood than for other building materials.

It was evident in the 10 or so seminars organised jointly by the Swedish Wood Building Council and Wood City Sweden that the message of wood as the new, modern building material has really taken root. Panels made up of politicians, developers, structural engineers, architects and wood industry representatives all bore witness to the way the tide is turning in favour of industrial wood construction. This is due not only to the material’s fantastic climate properties, but also the fact that wood improves the working environment at the construction site, shortens construction times and reduces the need for transport.

That same week, Prime Minister Stefan Löfven visited Stora Enso’s newly opened CLT factory in Grums. The wood industry took this opportunity to hand over a roadmap for industrial wood construction in Sweden. It is an offer from industry to society that, as well as the factors already mentioned, includes higher employment in rural areas. The Prime Minister took the roadmap and emphasised the importance of transforming the construction sector.

It was certainly an eventful summer for those of us who work with wood construction! Now autumn is here and we are doubling down to deliver on our ambitious plans.

Read the Swedish Forest Industries Federation’s report: bit.ly/skogklimat

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