The world population is growing at a rapid rate, along with an acceleration of urbanization taking place. For the Netherlands, this means we need one million extra homes before 2030. A million houses will result in huge demand for materials such as steel and concrete. Materials that are accompanied by lots of greenhouse gas emissions. For illustration: the construction industry is responsible for 39%(!) of the human CO2 emissions.
This is mainly because the energy consumed during all the processes associated with the construction of a building – the extraction, processing, production, transport and product delivery and demolition – is enormous!
That’s why we need to change our vision in the construction industry. Instead of seeing the quantity of construction that is necessary as a challenge, we need to see this as an opportunity. An opportunity to introduce a new way of construction that will reduce human CO2-emissions: building with alternative materials, building with timber!
Timber is a renewable resource that has low embodied energy and stores carbon. It can be recycled and put to new use through dismantling and deconstruction. Innovative construction methods in timber offer an opportunity to combine our urbanisation needs with a climate solution!
How can wood construction transform an emission economy into a net-zero carbon economy? Four aspects:
1. No emissions during the production process
Timber requires minimal energy during its extraction and processing. A tree can store fifteen times the carbon that is expended as energy during its transformation to timber construction components. Therefore, by harvesting trees and producing timber for construction, there is a net carbon benefit!
2. CO2 storage function
There are two ways to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere- reducing emissions or capturing CO2 and storing it. Wood can function as both. When the tree is harvested, the carbon remains stored in the wood until the end of its life cycle. While this carbon is safely locked up in timber products within the building, the practice of sustainable forestry ensures new trees which absorbs and stores carbon as they grow.
3. You can achieve a nature-inclusive cycle that enables more forests and CO2 deposition
Timber also functions as a carbon sink in the form of the forest from which it is derived. By capitalising the benefits of forests, an impetus would be created to increase the forest cover. This economic and environmental benefit can be a driver for this transition.
4. Recyclable or cradle to grave approach
Timber contributes to minimal energy consumption during production, construction and operational phase but also after building demolition it can be reused or recycled, thereby lowering its overall embodied energy.
Call to Action
The momentum towards timber construction has begun, but the real challenge is the speed and scale of this transition. There are multiple initiatives at the National, European and global level in terms of legislation and certain financial aids that have stirred this conversation and exploration. These include Building standards like BREEAM NL, MPG carbon tax, EU ETS, climate bonds and other incentives. However, the pace and scale of this impact need a further push!
That’s why ZeroCarbonFund is here. This is the leading financial tool to capture AND store CO2 for the long term in a useful way: in timber buildings. An impact-driven fund that will accelerate the transition of large-scale construction in wood.
How it will work
ZeroCarbonFund will raise funding from private and public parties that want to drive CO2-capture and storage. This enables them to lower atmospheric CO2- levels, whether that compensates for their own currently unavoidable emissions or not. Acquired funds will be applied for projects that form a part of a holistic, nature-inclusive cycle of forestry, fabrication, handling and construction. Projects are searched for, acquired and managed based on their positive CO2-impact.
Reliable and smart certification is integral part of this initiative.
We focus on three different levels of scale. We will start in the most dynamic part of the Netherlands: the Brainport Eindhoven region. This region, made famous by iconic technological powerhouse such as Philips, ASML and NXP, is the perfect ecosystem to start such a next generation movement. Here our first pilot project will be launched: The Dutch Mountains a large mixed-use building with two towers, mainly constructed in wood. We do this in close collaboration with the local governments, technological corporations and SMEs and societal partners.
This will lead to a national programme to speed up the funding of timber construction, supported by a collective of frontrunners and ambassadors. The Netherlands is the perfect location to combine the demand for proper housing – the Netherlands has to cope with a shortage of one million homes – with a solution for the climate crisis – the Netherlands is one of Europes largest emitters of CO2 per capita.
But it will not end at the Dutch borders, because the climate crisis also does not end there. That is why we eventually will work at a European level. We will combine the EU’s ambitions of a Green Deal and the restart of a common architectural tradition such as Bauhaus.
In January 2021 we start the launch of the pilot in the Brainport region, linked to the launch of The Dutch Mountains. In April of that year, we will proceed with the launch of the financial programme on a national scale. In the second half of 2021 we will conclude with the launch of the European fund. Together with you!
Join this movement with us.