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
EIT Climate-KIC welcomes opportunity to unlock trillions for climate adaptatio...

The European Commission has opened a call for feedback...

EIT Climate-KIC welcomes opportunity to unlock trillions for climate adaptation and mitigation
In The News
As a crucial vote on EU plastics policy looms ahead, a vision of creating circ...

The European Parliament will vote in Plenary today to...

As a crucial vote on EU plastics policy looms ahead, a vision of creating circular economies and societies emerges
In The News
A day dedicated to the future with world-renowned speakers

When science fiction meets economics Created in 2012, Edgeryders...

A day dedicated to the future with world-renowned speakers
In The News
Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity

Branch Magazine, a collaboration between EIT Climate-KIC, Mozilla Foundation...

Branch Magazine wins Ars Electronica Award for Digital Humanity
In The News
Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans

The circular economy concept is of crucial importance to...

Cross-KIC project to boost circular economy in Western Balkans
In The News
Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice

Enrolment is now open for placement hosts and participants...

Exploring new horizons with Pioneers into Practice
In The News
Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Co...

EIT Climate-KIC supported Lixea (formerly Chrysalix Technologies) has received...

Circular bioeconomy start-up receives €2 million from European Innovation Council Fund
In The News
Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova

Moldova is one of Europe’s most modest contributors to...

Embracing a new approach to climate change in Moldova
In The News
Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality

Poland’s former capital and one of its oldest cities,...

Krakow: transforming the city towards climate neutrality
In The News
Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?

On 23 April, EIT Climate-KIC CEO Kirsten Dunlop spoke...

Is Europe doing enough to tackle climate change?
In The News
EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy

The European Commission has published its EU-wide classification system for...

EU Commission publishes sustainable finance taxonomy
In The News
New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?

On 22 and 23 April, the first conference dedicated...

New European Bauhaus: what kind of future do you want to live in?
In The News
Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase

EIT Climate-KIC supported Estonian start-up Sympower has raised €5.2...

Estonian innovation to help stabilise grid as renewables increase
In The News
Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list

Twelve entrepreneurs from across the EIT community have been...

Five EIT Climate-KIC community members in Forbes 30 under 30 list
In The News
These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe

Google, in partnership with EIT Climate-KIC, launched the €10...

These eleven organisations are building a greener Europe
In The News
New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups

Found by us, funded by you, a new start-up...

New equity crowdfunding programme unearths cleantech start-ups
In The News
From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching ...

It’s a beverage revolution: Healthy hydration while fooling your...

From start-up to 100-person industry player in 18 months: air up is launching in new markets
In The News
#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enabl...

As part of the fifth SDG Global festival of...

#TurnItAround: an event for all climate solutions seekers, suppliers and enablers
In The News
New EIT initiative to boost innovation in higher education

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

New EIT initiative to boost innovation in higher education
In The News
Just transition within reach for Polish coal city Rybnik

“We are preparing plans for the next decade. Mentality is...

Just transition within reach for Polish coal city Rybnik
In The News
Inclusive guide helps communities build urban resilience

The new Urban Action Kit, launched by the International...

Inclusive guide helps communities build urban resilience
In The News
Climate app among DigiEduHack 2020 global finalists

The DigiEduHack, supported by EIT Climate-KIC as well as...

Climate app among DigiEduHack 2020 global finalists
In The News
GreeMko receives Climate Reality Project Award in Spain 

GreeMko (for Green Management Technology), a Spanish start-up that...

GreeMko receives Climate Reality Project Award in Spain 
In The News
What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?

EIT Climate-KIC Chief Executive Officer Kirsten Dunlop addressed the...

What’s the future of trade in a climate crisis?
In The News
Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change

Starting today, the seventh edition of the global green...

Wanted: Green business ideas to fix climate change
In The News
Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution

Ensuring that fresh water is available, in a sustainable...

Why sustainable water management needs a systemic solution
In The News
Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation

The European Commission released the new EU Climate Adaptation...

Integrating nature with technology to strengthen climate adaptation
In The News
EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change

EIT Climate-KIC welcomes the new EU strategy on adaptation...

EIT Climate-KIC is a key player in helping Europe adapt to climate change
In The News
Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities

A labyrinth of cobblestone streets, dimly lit and presided...

Edinburgh: building climate resilient infrastructure and communities
In The News
Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neig...

EIT Climate-KIC is working with the city of Leuven...

Residents of Kessel-Lo, Belgium, are invited to shape the future of their neighbourhood