Rediscovering wood

The present and future of ecological contruction

The greater attention to sustainability in architecture and civil engeneering has led, in the past few years, to a true rediscovery of wood as a building and cladding material. Among its properties, the versatility, the seismic resistance and the thermal insulation potential have played a major role in this new trend.

According to a report conducted by the Paolo Gardino Consulting Company for promo_legno, the association aimed at promoting the use of wood in Italy, the market is definitely expanding. In 2010, wooden houses represented 2.8 percent of the new private residential buildings and 8.5 percent of the total residential and nonresidential buildings, with a five-time increase since 2005. Most of them (71 percent) are located in Northern Italy, where the influence of the typical Swiss and Austrian chalet-style architecture is more powerful. The report estimates that by 2015 there will be up to 7.500 wooden buildings in the country (+ 50 percent), with a major increase of the nonresidential ones, such as schools, hotels and offices (+ 70 percent).

This is actually a worldwide trend, as highlighted last year by Fao, that promoted with the Government of India the international conference “Rediscovering Wood, the Key to a Sustainable Future” on how the production and use of wood working machines and wood products can contribute to sustainable development. Wood is, in fact, the only renewable,recyclable and sustainable major building material and it represents a smart choice when it comes to climate change and ecological construction.

Wooden or wood-framed houses can be very energy-efficient: wood is less heat conductive than steel and concrete, so it leads to lower energy consumptionwhen it comes to heating or cooling the house. Moreover, wooden buildings have less environmental impact than others and they can produce up to 60 percent less carbon dioxide emissions than alternative structures made with different materials.

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