Construction Fact 3:

One of the simplest ways to capture carbon and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere is by increasing the use of wood in construction.

References

One of the simplest ways to capture carbon and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere is by increasing the use of wood in construction

Source: Committee on Climate Change. UK Housing; Fit for the future? (p47), February 2019 https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/UK-housing-Fit-for-the-future-CCC-2019.pdf

“Increasing the number of new homes built in the UK each year using timber frame construction systems from around 27,000-50,000 in recent years to 270,000 annually could triple the amount of carbon stored in UK homes to 3 million tonnes every year.”

Source: Committee on Climate Change. UK Housing; Fit for the future? (p14), February 2019 https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/UK-housing-Fit-for-the-future-CCC-2019.pdf

“Using WiC [Wood in Construction] provides a long-term store for carbon in the built environment. The potential contribution of WiC to removals of carbon from the atmosphere depends on both the level of future house building and the extent to which timber is used as part of the construction process. Avoided emissions from the production of cement and bricks are an additional advantage of using WiC.

Our scenarios are based on the number of housing starts rising to over 320,000 each year by 2050, consistent with the Government’s house building ambition, but span a range of levels of uptake of WiC:

Core: The proportion of timber-framed houses and engineered wood systems makes up the same proportion of new build as they do today (15-28%).263 This leads to a removal of 2.0 MtCO2e/yr in 2050, growing from a sequestration of about 1 MtCO2/yr today.

Further Ambition: The proportion of timber-framed new build houses rises to over 40% by 2050. Engineered wood systems remain a minor contributor, reaching 5% by 2050. This leads to a removal of 2.3 MtCO2e/yr in 2050.

Speculative: The proportion of timber-framed houses rises to 80%. Engineered wood systems increase at 10% per year to 2027 then 20% year from 2027 to 2050. This leads to a removal of 3.2 MtCO2e/yr in 2050.”

Source: Committee on Climate Change. Net Zero Technical Report (pp275/276), May 2019 https://www.theccc.org.uk/publication/net-zero-technical-report/

“A recent report from the BioComposites Centre at Bangor University found that using timber frames rather than masonry can reduce carbon embodied emissions by around 20% per building. When CLT is chosen in place of concrete structures the effect is even greater, with carbon embodied emissions reduced by around 60%.”

Source: Dr Morwenna Spear et al. Wood in Construction in the UK: An Analysis of Carbon Abatement Potential, (p3, Main Findings), February 2019 https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/Wood-in-Construction-in-the-UK-An-Analysis-of-Carbon-Abatement-Potential-BioComposites-Centre.pdf

“Global construction of buildings and infrastructure and the associated material supply caused 7 GtCO2e of GHG emissions in 2015, of which 4 GtCO2e were associated with the use of materials in construction (Hertwich 2019)… Instead of using reinforced cement, masonry or steel frames, timber, bamboo and other plant fibres can be used as building materials, which has the potential to significantly reduce lifecycle GHG emissions in materials production and carbon storage”

Source: UN Environment Programme. Emissions Gap Report 2019, (p57) https://www.unenvironment.org/resources/emissions-gap-repor t-2019

“Building with biomass can both avoid new emissions and provide storage for CO2 captured in forestry. The potential GGR potential from building with biomass through replacement of conventional construction materials is estimated to be in the range 0.5 to 1 GtCO2 pa147”

Source: The Royal Society and the Royal Academy of Engineering. Greenhouse gas removal, (p47), 2018 https://royalsociety.org/~/media/policy/projects/greenhouse-gas-removal/royal-society-greenhouse-gas-removal-report-2018.pdf

Research by Heriot Watt University for the Wood Window Alliance estimated that using timber windows instead of PVC-U saves approximately one and a half tonnes of carbon dioxide per home over the life of the window

Source: Dr Gillian Menzies. Whole Life Analysis of timber, modified timber and aluminium-clad timber windows, Heriot Watt University, 2013 https://www.woodcampus.co.uk/windows-whole-life-analysis-service-life-whole-cost-lca/

“Recommendation (16) Develop new policies to support a substantial increase in the use of wood in construction”

Source: Committee on Climate Change. UK Housing; Fit for the future? (Executive summary p19), February 2019 https://www.theccc.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/UK-housing-Fit-for-the-future-CCC-2019.pdf