Selecting wood as the building material reduces environmental load

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A study concerning the environmental impacts of the Finnish Forest Research Institute building in Joensuu showed that selecting wood as the material reduced the project’s environmental load. All the properties of a modern office building were achieved, including adaptability. On 21 September 2005 the building received the Wood award for its outstanding architecture.

The Finnish Forest Research Institute’s new office building was completed in autumn 2004. The building and adjacent areas were designed and constructed according to the principles of sustainable development adopted by Senate Properties and the Finnish Forest Research Institute. One of the goals of the project was to reduce the environmental load. Selecting wood as the building material reduced the environmental load caused by the project.

A total of 3,460 gigajoules of nonrenewable energy went into the wooden building. The control building would have required 8,320 gigajoules. A total of 1,480 tons of nonrenewable materials went into the wooden building. The control building would have required 6,280 tons or four times as much. The wooden building’s fossil carbon dioxide emissions were 320,000 kg compared with 943,000 kg for the control building. Using wood as the building material reduced carbon dioxide emissions to about one-third.

The Finnish Forest Research Institute and the Finnish Forest Industries Federation financed the study, which evaluated the effect of selecting materials on the consumption of resources and related environmental loads. The study was conducted by comparing the wooden office building with a concrete building of similar size.

The study investigated the environmental load caused by frame and facade structures, assuming that only these structures differ in the completed building. The study did not include foundations, roofing or structural parts that are the same in both types of building. The environmental impacts of the construction stage and building use were also excluded from the study.

Additional information:

Petri Heino, Counsellor, Finnish Forest Industries Federation,
tel. +358 40 5546431