Evaluating the environmental performance of 45 real-life wooden buildings: A comprehensive analysis of low-impact construction practices

Camilla Ernst Andersen, Endrit Hoxha, Freja Nygaard Rasmussen, Christian Grau Sørensen, Harpa Birgisdóttir

Buildings are responsible for 37 % of global Greenhouse Gas (GHG) emissions. Subsequently, stakeholders in this sector have introduced different strategies to reduce the environmental impact of buildings. One strategy focuses on increasing the use of wood in buildings as a low-impact material with the potential to act as a carbon sink. Although research shows a tendency towards lower GHG emissions from wood structures compared to conventional constructions, the existing literature is typically challenged by methodological inconsistencies and only assesses a limited number of building projects at a time. As a result, uncertainties are introduced about comparisons between them, how their background and modeling assumptions may vary, as well as the integrity of the assessed solutions. Hence, this study analyses 45 cases of buildings applying the same methodology to enable a comprehensive understanding of the environmental performance of wooden buildings, identifying common trends, challenges, and best practices. This study finds that the embodied impacts contribute highly to the environmental impact and thus remain essential to consider. However, there is a very weak correlation between the quantities of wood used in the buildings and the environmental impact for wooden buildings, but a strong correlation between the quantities of insulation, plastics, composites, and POCP, ODP, ODP and EP, respectively. Therefore, the use of these materials should be optimized to further reduce the environmental impact of wood buildings.


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