Over the next 40 years, it is expected that more than 230 billion square metres will be built in the world. The production of building materials such as steel and concrete accounts for massive carbon emissions, making it urgently needed to introduce new and more sustainable materials to construction. Wood is an obvious choice for green building construction, as it has a lower carbon footprint, uses less energy and water, and is 100% renewable if it comes from sustainably managed forests. This sets timber apart from other building materials, such as concrete and steel.
In Brumunddal, Norway, the structure of the world’s tallest building made of wood is completed and the tower will open in 2019. Inspired by stave churches built in the 1100s, which still stand, the team decided to push the limits of using wood as a construction material to new heights. The timber used in the construction of Mjøstårnet is locally sourced in the area, which is known for its forestry and its wood-processing industry. Building in wood has an advantage in areas with a high occurrence of trees, because wood binds large amounts of CO2 and seals it in the building. Even though we do not know the long-term consequences of intense forestry, wood is to some extent self-generative and appears to be more climate friendly and resource efficient than concrete, and thereby constitutes a more sustainable building material. Also, wooden surfaces add an organic and warm atmosphere to the environment compared to steel and concrete surfaces.
The building of the 18 storey structure has consumed 11,000 trees, but the team had to add some concrete to the bearing construction to avoid uncomfortable sway, because of the light nature of the wooden construction. The official height of the building is 85.4 m, and the footprint is only 17 m in width and 37.5 m in length.