The Importance of Sustainable Construction – Climate change and the need for carbon sequestration

Professor Gideon Henderson, Chair of the joint report by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society on greenhouse gas removal technologies gave a talk on The Importance of Sustainable Construction – Climate change and the need for carbon sequestration at the Institution of Structural Engineers on 18th June 2019 as part of a workshop organised by Swedish Wood.

He drew from three reports used to inform the government’s flagship legislation to require the UK to achieve net zero carbon by 2050: • HM Government’s UK Clean Growth Strategy, published in Autumn 2017 • The report on Greenhouse gas removal by the Royal Society and Royal Academy of Engineering to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, published in September 2018 • And the Committee on Climate Change’s Net Zero report published in May 2019.

The result is a practical road map that identifies the carbon emissions contributed by different sectors of the economy and how they can be reduced or eliminated by 2050. It recognizes that some carbon emissions from sectors such as aviation, agriculture and industry are unavoidable and proposes to compensate for them by a number of strategies to take carbon out of the atmosphere and store it in forests, buildings and in the ground.

The Net Zero report identifies building with timber from sustainably managed forests as a significant component in the UK’s strategy to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by 2050, as it has found timber frame building (displacing masonry) can currently save over 3.0 tCO2e per tonne of biomass through a combination of carbon storage and displacement.

The Committee on Climate Change Net Zero Technical Report published in May 2019 states:

“Large increases in the percentage of houses and flats constructed with timber could enable up to 3 MtCO2/yr to be stored long-term in the built environment through wood used in construction. A similar level of contribution is possible through use of engineered wood products (e.g. cross laminated timber and glulam) in non-residential buildings.”

Furthermore it recognizes that:

“costs of using wood as a construction material are essentially negligible”.

You can see his full presentation below or download it HERE.

Professor Gideon Henderson is Professor of Earth Sciences at the University of Oxford and Chair of the joint report by the Royal Academy of Engineering and the Royal Society on greenhouse gas removal technologies.

Swedish Wood is the promotional arm of the Swedish Forest Industries Federation, whose mills are the largest exporters of wood to the UK. In Sweden, sustainable forestry ensures an increase in the stock of growing wood – for each tree that is cut down at least two are planted. Of the annual growth of 120 million forest cubic metres, just 90 million forest cubic metres is harvested, so that forest resources have doubled in the last 100 years. Forest policy places equal emphasis on the environment and wood production. Swedish Wood supports the UK timber industry’s free information and education portal.

IStructE_Henderson edit -compressed