Impact of wooden buildings on climate, embodied energy and GHG-emissions

As buildings are becoming more and more efficient in operation, the share of GHG emission resulting from materials and construction is likely to become dominant in the buildings life-cycle energy use and GHG emissions. Should we promote extensive use of alternative materials? Should we take materials and construction into account when assessing new buildings energy/emissions performance and granting construction permits? Do we need more research to progress the Life-Cycle Assessment (LCA) methods for buildings and to determine the embedded or “grey” energy and CO2 emissions of the materials? And is there a need to further research how to implement the life-cycle perspective into regulatory law? First and foremost, the aim of the study is to assess the potential of reducing GHG emissions of EU buildings over their entire life cycle from an energy-system perspective by using wood for the building structure, either in form of wood-frame or as massive wooden elements. The entire life-cycle covers not only the operations but also the manufacturing of the materials and the construction of the building – and ideally also the later reuse, recycling and disposal of the materials. This approach is also in line with target-setting in the currently developed EU Long Term Strategy towards 2050 (EU LTS), where net-zero emissions by 2050 can only be archived by taking circular economy into account. Secondly, the impact of additional timber production on the EU forests shall also be addressed, also including the import/export aspect and an assessment of energy use vs. non-energy use of wood. In addition to the technical impacts of wooden buildings, the current EU policy framework will be assessed with regard to improvement options and EU policy recommendations will be given.





“The study is carried out for the European Commission and expresses the opinion of the organisation having undertaken them. To this end, it does not reflect the views of the European Commission, TSOs, project promoters and other stakeholders involved. The European Commission does not guarantee the accuracy of the information given in the study, nor does it accept responsibility for any use made thereof.”