Sustainable Building with Timber/

Organiser: TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment and the Circular Built Environment Hub

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15 November, 2023


TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment and the Circular Built Environment Hub


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Innovations in architecture, engineering and manufacturing make it feasible to construct almost any building in timber, including high-rise structures. Discover how this way of building could help solve our climate, resource and housing related challenges.

The way we construct our buildings needs to change! Over 35% of our global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the built environment. A third of that amount is specifically related to the production of abiotic (non-renewable) materials such as concrete, metals and plastics. The associated challenges are not only climate related, but also concern resource scarcity, health and housing provision.

A viable alternative to our current construction paradigm is building with timber. Recent advances in the capabilities of timber manufacturing offer opportunities for large-scale application in the build environment, whilst also going much of the way to solving the aforementioned challenges.

In this course you will learn how we can – and why we should – support the greater use of timber in our built environment by implementing a combined ‘sustainable forestry’ and ‘timber for construction’ supply chain.

Sustainable forest management allows us to use timber while preserving forests by taking ecological and social, as well as economic factors into account. Sustainably sourced timber can store carbon, both in forests and in buildings.

Timber is also an ideal material for prefabrication, which allows us to shift the bulk of construction labor to manufacturing halls and make the building process itself cleaner, quicker, of a higher quality, and less of a nuisance on-site.

Additionally, an ideal timber construction process should incorporate circular building practices allowing us to re-use timber structures at individual building and regional level.

Overall, when compared with traditional construction based on heavy abiotic materials, this will result in healthier buildings which store carbon instead of emitting it, while the raw resource grows back in sustainably managed temperate forests.

This course is relevant for all stakeholders in the built environment – architects, developers, engineers, consultants and policymakers – as well as students who want to learn more about the opportunities and cutting-edge best practices for designing and building with timber.

This course has been developed by TU Delft’s Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment and the Circular Built Environment Hub, in collaboration with VIA University College Denmark, FSC Netherlands, the AMS Institute, Ssse | OvO associates architects, Lister Buildings, Material District and geWOONhout in the context of the HOME for the future project.

What You’ll Learn

  • Gain fresh insights into the importance of building sustainably with timber from well-managed forests
  • Familiarize yourself with the environmental impact and carbon footprint of timber constructions
  • Analyze and identify circular timber building design typologies
  • Evaluate the cohesion and stability of timber load-bearing structures
  • Examine the building physics and design qualities of modern timber buildings
  • Discuss the benefits of prefabrication and building processes

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