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Climate protection capacity from the forest

Why prefabricated wooden houses are good for the environment

Federal Association of German Prefabricated Construction (BDF)

Heat records. "Fridays for Future”. Cities calling for climate emergency. Political election and survey results that underline: The topic of climate protection has never been more present in the public. Products and solutions that can reduce CO2 emissions have never been more in demand - not even in construction and living. "Energy-efficient houses made from wood, a renewable resource, are climate protectors and sustainable homes with a natural feel-good factor," says Christoph Windscheif of the Federal Association of German Prefabricated Construction (Bundesverband Deutscher Fertigbau – BDF).

Prefabricated houses are built from wood. In historic half-timbered houses and ships, the natural material has proven its stability and longevity countless times and created a cosy ambience. Together, the building material wood and its place of origin, the forest, contribute to climate protection. This is why the timber and forestry industries in Germany are committed to sustainability: for more than 300 years, the German forest has been managed according to the principle of sustainability. This means that no more wood may be harvested than grows back. Germany's leading prefabricated house manufacturers, who have joined forces in the BDF, undertake to use only legally harvested wood from sustainable forestry.

Germany's forest area and climate protection capacity are growing year by year, the forest area is increasing and so is its climate protection capacity. "Every growing tree reduces the CO2 concentration and thus the greenhouse effect by absorbing the greenhouse gas CO2 from the atmosphere, storing the carbon and releasing the oxygen back into the environment - keyword: photosynthesis," explains Windscheif. However, it is not only the tree that protects the climate, but also the wood that is used to build it. This is because the carbon remains bound in the wood instead of being returned to the atmosphere as climate-damaging CO2, as in the case of combustion or rotting. "Long-lived wood products such as prefabricated houses are therefore always themselves climate protectors and building with wood as well as sustainable forest management to be promoted," demands the BDF expert and complains that are not everywhere given equal rights of the building material from the forest and conventional building materials: "Some federal states such as Baden-Wuerttemberg are exemplary for building with wood, others lag behind politically and building law and thus prevent an even more effective climate protection. This applies in particular to multi-storey timber construction.

Timber prefabricated houses save energy and CO2. After all, every fifth new building in one- and two-family house construction is a timber prefabricated house, in Baden-Wuerttemberg already more than every third - and the trend has been rising nationwide for years. The wooden houses from the factory are individually planned, industrially prefabricated and then erected in a short time on the building site. The building material wood has even more climate protection capacity than "just" storage capacity for carbon: the natural material can also be processed less energy-intensively, transported more easily and integrated in an exemplary way into a sustainable recycling system and thus recycled. In addition, modern prefabricated houses are highly energy-efficient, which means fewer CO2 emissions and lower energy costs for heating. Decisive for energy efficiency are the very good building physics properties of wood and the intelligent wall construction with insulating materials inside. "Wood is a genuine high-performance material from nature, which will never go out of fashion, but would have to be promoted even more because of its ability to protect the climate," concludes Windscheif.

Picture: Wooden houses are effective climate protectors. Photo: BDF/Rubner Haus

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