Wood Construction Goes Seriously Vertical. But Does it Really Sequester Carbon?

Way up at the top of Norway, in the land of the midnight sun and the northern lights, Reiulf Ramstad Architects is planning the world's tallest wooden building at 17 floors. Inhabitat points us to this proposed "lighthouse of sorts and a beacon of knowledge and development."

I am among many who think that wood construction is a great way to sequester carbon permanently. If the wood is sustainably harvested from properly managed forests, it becomes a renewable, local resource that keeps a lot of people employed and in their communities. Why drag steel up there when you are surrounded by wood?

Because of this, wood architecture just keeps getting more innovative as architects and engineers push the limits of combustible construction. (Fire detection and suppression has to keep up with the sophistication of the architecture)

The Barents Observer lists other aspects of the building that bring it to carbon neutrality:

The idea is to construct a building which will be CO2-neutral, where the concept of the cycles of nature will be preserved. The innovative solutions on modern wooden constructions will stand as a token of the level of competence in the region, says architect Reiulf Ramstad.

Not everyone agrees with the theory that wood construction is a good carbon sink, as suggested by Warren in his post Timber Houses Lead a Double Life. As Carbon Sinks and I have said many times. A commenter on my post Forest Research Center is Built, Logically, of Wood pointed us to a fascinating 67 slide show by Doug Heiken of Oregon Wild.

Heiken claims that effectiveley only 15% of the lumber ever gets to the stage that it is actually sequestering carbon, and the rest is lost to slash, mill waste, processing and transport emissions.

But then Heiken shows slides that do not exactly look like best practices in a sustainably managed forest. I suspect that the Norwegians are doing better than this.

There doesn't have to be any slash or mill waste; technology now exists to turn it into useable materials like parallam and particle board. It can power the processing plant. The building can be close to the source of the timber, reducing transport costs. What happens in Oregon does not neccessarily translate into Norwegian.

But he makes some good points and his slideshow is worth a look.

See more great wood buildings:


Forest Research Center is Built, Logically, of Wood

Wood Construction Scales Up

School Built From Wood By Sheppard Robson

Waugh Thistleton's Timber Tower

See also:

FMO Tapiola: Prefab Wood Office Building in Finland
Designing with Carbon Dioxide
Wood Construction vs Deforestation

Tags: Architecture | Construction | Norway

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