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Chemistry, Materials & Packaging
Stora Enso Says Circular Building Solution Could Eliminate 70% of Construction’s Climate Impacts

The Finnish biomaterials giant says shifting to wood as a building material can cut up to 70% of emissions per project and ensure that the construction industry is part of the solution to end global warming.

To help dial back the construction industry’s massive carbon footprint, Finnish biomaterials innovator Stora Enso has launched Sylva™ — a massive wood building kit comprising custom, pre-fabricated applications delivered just-in-time to building sites.

The built environment is one of the largest and most carbon-emitting industries in the world — it accounts for nearly 40 percent of annual global carbon emissions; embodied emissions associated with materials and the construction process account for approximately 11 percent.

Wood products can help transform the construction sector from a source of greenhouse gas emissions to a carbon sink. Every cubic meter of wood used as a substitute for non-renewable building materials reduces CO₂ emissions by an average of 1.5 tonnes; and wooden buildings store the carbon for generations. One example is the wooden North Stowe school in Cambridge, UK, which stores 2 000 tons of CO₂. At the end of the school’s life cycle, the wood can be easily dismantled, reused, recycled or used for energy production.

A leading provider of renewable products in packaging, biomaterials, wooden construction and paper, Stora Enso is also one of the world’s largest private owners of FSC-certified, sustainably managed forest. The company says a major shift to wood as a building material can cut up to 70 percent of emissions per project and ensure that the construction industry is part of the solution to end global warming.

“One of the major reasons why the construction industry’s carbon emissions have reached its highest level is its constant over-reliance on carbon-intensive materials such as steel and concrete. Recent engineering innovations based on massive wood will wean the dependence on these materials. Today we can build higher, stronger and lighter than ever with wood,” says Lars Völkel, EVP and Head of the Wood Products division at Stora Enso — which last year committed to offering 100 percent regenerative products and solutions (which the company defines as renewable and fully circular products and solutions that help reduce climate impact and support biodiversity restoration) by 2050.

Sylva encompasses Stora Enso’s range of engineered and prefabricated products such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and glued laminated timber (GLT). The kit enables faster construction, reduced costs, more efficient use of raw material; and includes everything needed to create a circular wood structure for low-carbon buildings. The custom-made walls, floors, roofs, stairs, beams and columns optimize the use of massive wood to suit buildings of all typologies and scales for specific project needs.

A primary target market for Sylva is schools, as classroom overcrowding is a growing problem across the Western world: In the UK, more than 12 000 new classrooms need to be built in the next two years to accommodate for the soaring number of primary and secondary pupils expected; in the US, 60 percent of fourth-graders and 66 percent of eighth-graders attending public schools recently reported overcrowded classrooms. And in both the US and UK, the poor condition of schools — with buildings considered unsafe, unhealthy or too small — is to blame.


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