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Raw material wood: a lever for climate protection

May 31, 2017


  • Wood is renewable, climate-friendly, versatile
  • in line with the trend as a construction material and energy source
  • INTERFORST: meeting place for sustainable forestry

The European Community has committed itself to the target of emitting approximately 20 percent less carbon by the year 2020; at the same time, the proportion of renewable energies is to increase to 20 percent (“20-20-20 target”). Sustainable forestry and wood as a construction material and source of energy are important levers for climate protection. These topics, too, will be dealt with at INTERFORST 2018 in Munich.

“Wood is renewable, stores carbon and is versatile—and thus a climate-friendly raw material”, states Martina Ehrnsperger, Exhibition Director of INTERFORST. “Sustainable forestry is an essential aspect of INTERFORST which will take place again in Munich in July 2018.”

Trees “breathe” in carbon and “breathe” out oxygen. Particularly young, rapidly growing forests absorb large quantities of carbon and in this way counteract the greenhouse effect. Wood in houses or furniture stores carbon for further decades. Wood is predominantly climate-neutral, even as combustible. The quantity of carbon dioxide that is set free does not exceed the quantity that the tree absorbed in the form of carbon during its growth process. “The use of domestic wood, short transport ways and regional processing equally contribute to climate protection”, explains Martina Ehrnsperger.

Wood as a construction material and source of energy
“Wood is an excellent material, construction material and source of energy”, confirms Martin Bentele, inter alia, Chaiman of the Board of Trustees of proHolz Bayern. “We provide this raw material in great quantities in Germany—and meet high demands regarding nature conservation and erosion protection, recreation and other public requirements on the same forest space. Experts from all over the world come here to experience this.”

In Germany, sustainable forest management and wood utilization—as well as the energetic use of wood—contribute to discharging the atmosphere by some 158 tons of carbon dioxide annually (German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture 2016). Whether firewood, wood chips or pellets: wood has developed to become a serious alternative to fossil energy sources. The number of built-in pellet boilers and wood-burning stoves has quadrupled since 2007 (Agency for Renewable Resources [Fachagentur Nachwachsende Rohstoffe FNR]). The attractiveness of wood is even enhanced by new combinations with solar thermal panels and efficient wood heating systems. This applies particularly to low energy houses and houses with a low energy demand. “Modern wood energy supplements timber construction perfectly, it is the “cherry on the cake” for climate neutrality, so to speak”, says Martin Bentle.

Trend towards wooden houses
Since the 1990s, wooden construction has increasingly gained market shares (FNR 2016). For one- and two-family houses, the proportion of wooden houses has increased from 13 to 17 percent since 2005 (proHolz Bayern 2017). The number of wooden houses built in Southern Germany is particularly high, predominantly using wood from domestic forests. “Wood offers a variety of design possibilities, in addition to a quick construction method by timber frame construction and industrial prefabrication. Many builder-owners appreciate the special living climate—and their good conscience”, explains architect Florian Lichtblau.

The architect does not fear a shortage of raw materials: “Around one third of the annual German timber harvest would be sufficient to build Germany’s entire new construction volume using timber.” In this context, Florian Lichtblau also refers to the book and exhibition “Building with Timber, Ways into the Future” by Prof. Hermann Kaufmann in cooperation with Prof. Winfried Nerdinger from the Technical University of Munich. A residential area of the GWG Städtische Wohnungsgesellschaft München in Sendling-Westpark is exemplary for climate-friendly timber construction. It is Munich’s largest timber construction project with a volume of used wood amounting to 1,100 cubic meters. “The renovated building has twice as much living space and simultaneously reduced the heat energy requirements by the factor 15“, explains Florian Lichtblau. This is another result yielded by accompanying research, with which he is particularly delighted: “And the residents are happy in their wooden houses.”

Pictures for this press release

  • Even as combustible wood is predominantly climate-neutral.

    Image source: Deutsches Pelletinstitut

  • In line with the trend: renovated building with wood.

    Image source: Lichtblau