The global population is projected to reach almost 10 billion people by 2050, and most of them will live in cities.
But how will they be housed, and at what cost to the environment? Already, the space and resources needed to support such huge populations are being met by building up.
This short video by The Economist shows how the world can switch from using energy-intensive non-renewable steel and concrete to a “new” renewable material called wood.
Actually, what’s new is the process of gluing smaller boards together to make large thick panels called cross-laminated timber, commonly known as CLT. As you’ll see, mass timber doesn’t have the fire risk that accompanies construction with smaller pieces of lumber, so CLT can be used in tall buildings.
And yes, an essential benefit is that the wood is sourced from sustainably managed forests.
The use of wood in these new markets creates higher demand which creates the economic incentive to grow more forests which can help pull carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and store it in the trees and future lumber.
So the construction of wooden skyscrapers has a triple climate benefit: First it uses far less energy to produce, thus reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Then, it stores carbon, pulled from the atmosphere by the trees, in the buildings. Finally, it creates an incentive to grow more forests sustainably, which pulls more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.
And, the video shows, construction using cross-laminated timber is significantly faster. And dozens of studies have shown the benefits of living and working surrounded by the natural beauty and calming influence of wood. Take a look.