As we step deeper into the 21st century, we are hit with an overbearing and scary realisation. The climate is changing against us every passing second and unless drastic measures are taken to shift the tide in our Favour, we might lose the world as we know it. This is a war we cannot win with a concrete mindset. Literally.
More than half the world’s population resides in cities today. This number will grow by leaps and bounds in the upcoming decades. What then? The demand to build with steel and concrete will only grow exponentially with that. And this will put more duress on our already strained environment.
This is where the need to build with timber trickles in. When taken from sustainably sourced forests, timber becomes the greenest and the kindest replacement for the usual environment-destroying building materials like steel and concrete. Not only that, building more and more homes with wood has the potential to reduce our carbon footing drastically, taking the carbon budget down to 10%, which is what we need to limit and ultimately reduce global heating to 2C this century.
This is a benchmark moment in the history of man. The choices we make today will determine our future, whether it’s a happy and healthy one or it’s filled with wrath from mother nature.
The issue of the serious carbon footprint that buildings made with concrete leaves can be solved with wood. With today’s technological advancements in the timber industry, we can now easily house the modern population in mid-rise timber structures that are 4-12 storeys!
The overhaul of construction practices needed for such a shift would require up to 149m hectares of new timber plantations – and an increase in harvests from unprotected natural forests – but it need not encroach on farmland, according to the paper by the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK).
The study is the first to talk about the vast environment-saving, humanity-restoring potential the construction of “timber-cities” actually has. It’d be such a pity to let all that go to waste, wouldn’t it?
The extensive study done by PIK scientists using the Magpie model explored the different ways timber cities could make a vast contribution towards sustainable building in the upcoming years. The use of wood in the construction industry drastically reduces the carbon footprint since it doesn’t emit any CO2 absorbed during the growth period of the tree until its very last stages, i.e. until the timber is finally destroyed. This, in itself, is an exceptional quality which, if not made use of, will be a waste of such a large sustainable resource at our disposal.
Of course, safe-guarding the forests is a priority. We don’t want to inflict a different pain on the earth while trying to rid it of its current one. Which is why sourcing the timber only from managed forests is the only responsible way to move forward.