The Environmental Contribution Of Wood Use

When one speaks of sustainable buildings today, it goes without saying that they have to meet a whole range of ecological, economic, socio-cultural, and functional criteria. These describe the various demands of society for the construction and housing over the entire life cycle of houses. However, technical criteria and aspects of process quality in the construction sector in the assessment of buildings with one. So a sustainable social development has been specified for the construction sector with the development of appropriate rating systems by then general guidelines.

Wood Reduces the Environmental Impact of Buildings

In Central Europe, the concept of sustainability emerged in the 14th century in the forest regulations and won in the course of the ever-increasing use of forests is becoming increasingly important. From the end of the 16th century, the principle of sustainability prevailed inexorably in forestry. For a long time, it was limited to the sustainability of the forest and ensured the long-term availability of renewable raw material. Since the beginning of the 1990s, the issues of environmental protection and resource security have become increasingly important, to which the publication of the Brundtland Report in 1987 had made a significant contribution. For the first time, this established a connection between topics such as global economic development, poverty alleviation, and environmental degradation ago and thus abolished the principle of sustainable development in the modern sense. As a result, particularly the negative impact moved the increasing energy and resource consumption in the center of the global perception.

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Consequently, climate and energy policy now occupies a large part of the social debate. According to calculations by the International Energy Agency (IEA), in addition to the industrial and transport sectors, the building sector is primarily responsible for global energy consumption. The IEA estimates that up to 40 percent of the energy produced worldwide is used in this sector. Equally high is the global contribution to the CO 2 emissions, which are related to the field of “building and living”. 3 The supply and use of energy, as well as the effects of buildings on the climate system, are assessed in the two assessment systems for sustainable building (BNB and DGNB) represented in Germany using the following criteria:


  • Global warming potential (GWP),
  • Primary energy demand, non-renewable (PENE)
  • Total primary energy demand (PEGES) and share of renewable energy
  • Primary energy demand (PEE).


However, the global warming potential is a result of the current weight by only approximately 3.5 percent in the overall evaluation of a building. The energy consumption contributes only 5.5 percent to the overall rating (as of 10/2012). In view of the construction sector for the “new” defined criteria but critically to determine the sustainability and in light of the relationships described must this circumstance.

In addition to the variety of indicators on which buildings must be measured from different materials equally, also the evaluation criterion “Sustainable wood material recovery /” has been created as part of the environmental pillar specifically for wood construction. Its fulfillment is measured on the basis of proof of the use of certified wood (FSC, PEFC, or comparable certificates). Thus, through the required chain of custody evidence for wood used in buildings, aspects of sustainable forest management are also indirectly taken into account in the building assessment.