System mapping of wood in construction uncovers key insights

The “Wood in Construction Systems Map,” developed by the University of Edinburgh, aims to uncover ways to increase the carbon benefits of wood fibre in UK construction. The map is part of EIT Climate-KIC’s Landscapes as Carbon Sinks Deep Demonstration in Scotland, a project aiming to help the country’s landscape systems decarbonise, adapt and increase resilience to climate change, and foster a bioeconomy—the sustainable extraction and production of natural resources, like wood.

The Scottish Government has a commitment to tree planting targets to increase total forest land area from 19 per cent to 21 per cent by 2032. However, combining forest growth with sustainable wood harvesting for long-term construction products can increase the overall carbon removed from the atmosphere and mitigate the risk of climate change, disease and pests to the forest carbon store. According to an Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on forestry: “Mitigation options by the forestry sector include extending carbon retention in harvested wood products, product substitution, and producing biomass for bio-energy. This carbon is removed from the atmosphere and is available to meet society’s needs for timber, fibre, and energy.” 

The benefits of using wood in construction include storing carbon within buildings and displacing high-carbon materials like cement, brick and steel. Specifically, timber frame buildings store 50 per cent more carbon than an equivalent masonry structure and buildings made from cross-laminated timber store 400 per cent more carbon than concrete ones.

The Landscapes as Carbon Sinks Deep Demonstration team looked at what is currently enabling and inhibiting the use of wood from Scottish forests in the UK construction sector. To bring these findings to life, Galina Toteva and Hester Robertson of the University of Edinburgh created the interactive “Wood in Construction System Map.”

The map shows the causes and effects of key forces in a system, exploring how they connect in causal loops and how these loops interact with one another. It aims to answer the question ‘why is the system the way it is?’ or in this instance ‘why, given its clear environmental benefits, is the use of wood in construction not more prevalent?’ The map is not meant to be a complete catalogue of everything that influences the system. Instead, it aims to display the most important areas of focus that are key to answering the question.

 

Why, given its clear environmental benefits, is the use of wood in construction not more prevalent?

  1. A knowledge gap across the construction timber supply chain

In order to achieve a 50 per cent increase of Scottish wood in construction the industry needs to be specifying for timber. This requires architects, structural engineers and the wider industry to be trained in timber construction techniques and for the wider public to see timber as a desirable building material.

  1. Traditional construction dominates

The current construction market is dominated by a few players, with established relationships and supply chains, who use traditional construction methods where timber plays a minor role. These companies’ ability to change practices is constrained by client preferences, and supply chain restrictions. Culture and risk are barriers to investment and adoption of innovative practices. Without confidence in the growth of the market for timber products investors will not invest in the facilities, training, and technology necessary for this growth.

  1. Local timber supply constraints

Fundamental to achieving a 50 per cent increase of Scottish wood in construction is the availability, quality and range of UK timber for construction. In turn, architects and structural engineers need to design and specify timber components to match the properties and availability of local material.

  1. Siloed professions

Planting targets and hence timber availability are underpinned by land use strategies. Currently, strategies in Scotland are highly siloed.

 

Landscapes as Carbon Sinks is one of eight Deep Demonstrations launched by EIT Climate-KIC, which together offer examples of the ambitious, “1.5°C-consistent systems transitions” called for by the IPCC reports, climate scientists, activists and European policymakers. Deep Demonstrations of turning landscapes from carbon sources to sinks tackle a lack of investment, as well as the need to forge new social contracts with soil and forests and line-up value-chain incentives. Current partners include Chalons-en-Champagne, a French landscape ecosystem, and the Government of Scotland.

The Scottish Landscapes as Carbon Sinks Deep Demonstration is a collaboration with the Edinburgh Centre for Carbon Innovation (ECCI) and the University of Edinburgh’s Centre for Sustainable Forests and Landscapes (CSFL).

Visit the full “Wood in Construction Systems Map.”

Explore the map

 
Location
Related Focus Area
Sustainable Land Use
Related Goal
Goal 6: Nurture forests in integrated landscapes
Articles you may be interested in
In The News
A new air and climate plan for Milan

The City Council of Milan approved the Air and...

A new air and climate plan for Milan
In The News
Meet the three EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards

Three innovators from EIT Climate-KIC’s community have been nominated...

Meet the three EIT Climate-KIC innovators nominated for EIT Awards
In The News
100 European cities take up the challenge to become carbon neutral by 2030

On Monday 13 June, the representatives of the 100...

100 European cities take up the challenge to become carbon neutral by 2030
In The News
The role of cities and regions in transforming wood value chains

Climate smart forest economies It’s a crucial decade for...

The role of cities and regions in transforming wood value chains
In The News
Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate acti...

Scotland’s largest city region is actively tackling climate change...

Glasgow City Region pioneering forest economy innovation to drive climate action
In The News
Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe

EIT Climate-KIC and Built by Nature, announce an initiative...

Forging sustainable timber construction in Europe
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme

EIT Climate-KIC is launching Circularity Thinking courses to tackle...

EIT Climate-KIC launches new Circularity Thinking training programme
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster

EIT Climate-KIC selected four cleantech start-ups to be part...

EIT Climate-KIC announces four winners of EIT Community Booster
In The News
Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage

Climate change is going to get worse, but curbing global warming is...

Science reveals last paths to stop irreversible planetary damage
In The News
EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners

Supported by the EIT Community, the New European Bauhaus...

EIT Community presents New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards winners
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate clima...

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and the Marine of...

EIT Climate-KIC joins forces with the Government of Ireland to stimulate climate innovation in the agri-food sector
In The News
Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambit...

Climate Lab in Vienna will give climate actors an...

Climate Lab: EIT Climate-KIC co-initiates hotspot for Vienna’s climate ambitions
In The News
Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report

On 28 February, the IPCC Sixth Assessment Report (AR6)...

Seven takeaways from the latest IPCC report
In The News
EIT launches new Global Outreach website

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

EIT launches new Global Outreach website
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups

Working on transformative, systemic innovation to accelerate a net-zero...

EIT Climate-KIC and Amazon launch call for sustainable start-ups
In The News
Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Awar...

Do you want to support innovative solutions that integrate...

Votes open for the 2021 New European Bauhaus Ideation Awards – Audience Award
In The News
Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storag...

Brill Power, supported by EIT Climate-KIC, has launched the...

Brill Power’s new innovation radically increases battery life and storage capacity
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop delivered a talk,...

EIT Climate-KIC CEO Dr. Kirsten Dunlop gives TEDx Talk
In The News
Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek mar...

To tackle complex climate challenges, we need a broader...

Putting theory into practice: EIT Climate-KIC Pioneer innovating the Greek maritime sector
In The News
EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Instit...

Unlocking the potential of higher education institutions for innovation...

EIT launches call for proposals to boost innovation in Higher Education Institutions
In The News
Dolomites forging climate resilience

The Italian Dolomites, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are...

Dolomites forging climate resilience
In The News
People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan

The region’s climate action plan has been announced, with...

People-powered resilience: Andalusia announces new climate action plan
In The News
Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable co...

The built environment accounts for close to 40 per...

Built by Nature: new initiative to accelerate the transition to sustainable construction in cities
In The News
The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate in...

Glasgow, 8 November – The California Governor’s Office of...

The State of California and EIT Climate-KIC advance partnership for climate innovation
In The News
COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global I...

A new digital Global Innovation Hub has been launched at...

COP26: UN Climate Change and EIT Climate-KIC partner to establish new Global Innovation Hub
In The News
ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners

EIT Climate-KIC’s ClimateLaunchpad – the world’s largest green business...

ClimateLaunchpad announces 2021 competition winners
In The News
EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended

EIT Climate-KIC has launched a call for ideas on...

EIT Cross-KIC New European Bauhaus launches Ideation – Deadline Extended
In The News
Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures

The European Institute of Innovation and Technology (EIT) has...

Call for proposals: Scaling the New European Bauhaus Ventures
In The News
Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience

Glasgow, which is hosting this year’s UN Climate Change...

Glasgow City Region in the race to resilience
In The News
Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability

Gipuzkoa, the smallest Spanish province located in the Basque...

Gipuzkoa’s quest for sustainability