Decreasing the climate impact from the construction sector takes innovation and new, daring solutions. One of the solutions to decrease CO2 emissions is to use more sustainable materials, such as wood, in the building process.
On the first day of Smart City Sweden’s event ‘Bold Buildings’, experts discussed how wood and other solutions can be implemented to decrease the environmental impact from the construction sector. Moderating the sessions from Stockholm was Susanne Rudenstam from the Swedish Wood Council. Annika Nilsson from the Swedish Energy Agency and Gina Aspelin Hedbring from Smart City Sweden led the event from Dubai.
Wood – the climate-smart alternative?
70 % of Sweden consists of forest, and wood can play an important role when decreasing a building’s environmental impact. In the first session of the day, experts in sustainability and building materials discussed how sustainable wood is. Magnus Wålinder, Professor in building materials at KTH, presented how wood as a material is constructed on a micro-level. Magnus showed how heterogenous wood is and pointed out how wood can be used as a carbon sink and reduce CO2 in the atmosphere.
Jan Agri, Implementation Coach at RE:Soure, talked about how the Swedish forest has previously been used for short-lived products such as paper, but using the forest for long-lived products can reduce the impact on the planet. He also pointed out that circularity is not just re-use, but also the effectiveness of use.
Life cycle assessment (LCA) is used to calculate the environmental impacts. Åsa Thrysin from IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute talked about how LCA can be used to compare different building materials and methods to make more sustainable choices. She also highlighted the importance of energy efficiency in buildings.
Municipal wooden strategies
In the second session of the day, three cities in the forefront when it comes to building in wood joined the discussion. All the cities have a wood building strategy to increase their wood building. Skellefteå, a city with lots of forest, was one of the cities that participated. Lars Hedqvist, Head of Planning in Skellefteå Municipality, mentioned that a strategy is good to create awareness among investors and citizens. In Skellefteå, the wood strategy has helped increase innovation as well as sustainability, according to Lars.
Dr. Fredrik Lindblad, Head of Market and Business Development in Växjö Municipality talked about the municipality’s long work with building with wood, where one of the key factors has been the collaboration and involving stakeholders. Fredrik mentioned that since the companies know about the wooden strategy, they invest in the technology needed, which in turn creates a more cost-efficient building process.
Helena Kylin from Varberg municipality, a municipality that just started their work with building with wood, talked about how they are currently forming their strategy together with local politicians and the academy. She mentioned that cities like Skellefteå and Växjö have paved the way when other cities are creating their wood building strategies.
Inspirational Best Practices from Sweden
In the last part of the first day, listeners got to hear about three best practices from building with wood. Architects Robert Schmitz and Oskar Norelius talked about how they worked when creating the Sara Culture Centre, one of the highest wooden buildings in the world and a unique building when it comes to both design and sustainability.
Joining was also Elsa Fahlén, Innovation Leader for Hoppet, a project that aimed to create a fossil-free preschool. The project looked at the whole value chain to create the most sustainable building possible and managed to decrease the climate impact from the building materials by 70 %, compared to if the school would be built traditionally.
Live from Dubai was Staffan Schartner, Head of Construction of the Swedish pavilion at Expo 2020 in Dubai. Staffan demonstrated some of the sustainable solutions being implemented in the pavilion to minimize the impact on the planet. Not only is the pavilion is made without concrete and steel, solutions such as water-saving taps, and solar thermal panels have also been implemented to decrease the environmental impact.
On the second day of the event, topics such as health, digitalisation and safety in buildings were discussed.