Wood The material of the future?

María Eugenia Velásquez

March 22, 2022
Tower of wooden cubes on desk

In a world dominated by concrete and steel, wood is rapidly making its way as a sustainable material over time, with a negative carbon footprint and aligned with the Sustainable Development Goals, which is why wood is being referred to as the material of the future.

OK, I have to admit that my point of view can be a bit unbiased and that is why I have referred to the facts - and not my opinion - to address this issue. Read on 😉 😉.

Why is wood a sustainable material?

Wood has a number of characteristics that make it one of the most sustainable building materials available today. Here are some of them:

  • It is carbon positive. This means that it absorbs more CO2 than is necessary for its manufacture. As trees grow they absorb CO2 and retain it in their leaves, branches and trunks even after they are felled. This makes wood the only building material that contributes to the long-term reduction of carbon emissions.
  • It is natural. As a completely natural material, it does not generate toxic waste.
  • It is renewable. The process of growing and felling forests ensures a sustainable and renewable cycle. By law, every time a tree is felled, 10 more are planted.
  • It is recyclable and reusable. When a wooden building reaches the end of its useful life, the parts can be easily recycled and reused for a new use, thus promoting a circularity of materials.
  • It is a natural insulator. Wood is an excellent thermal insulator, and not only that, but it also maximises the efficiency of any other material added for the thermal insulation of the house.
Are you interested in building a passive wooden house?
schedule a video call

Why is wood being used in construction?

Currently, most buildings are constructed with two materials: steel and concrete. Both have very good construction properties, but both require a lot of energy and emit high amounts of greenhouse gases in their production. Steel accounts for about 3% of global emissions, while concrete accounts for more than 5%.

The growing need to reduce carbon emissions has led the construction sector to look for more environmentally friendly material alternatives, and this is where timber shines. This material, used for centuries for construction, was long displaced by steel and concrete, but its return is imminent.

Thanks to new industrialised building technologies, and advances in the production of stronger wood panels, the possibilities for building with wood are almost endless. This, combined with the characteristics I mentioned earlier, make this material the smartest option for moving forward without compromising the environment.

This is demonstrated by most of the new building projects being planned around the world:

  • The Mjøstårnet building in Norway is the tallest wooden building in the world to date. With its 18 storeys and 85.4 m high, it is an example of engineering, design and sustainability.
  • The Paris 2024 Olympic Village will be a smart city built of wood, and after the games it can be integrated as a sustainable neighbourhood.
  • The Ascent building, which is under construction in Milwaukee, USA, will house 259 dwellings on its 25 floors made of wood.
  • The Mandela Buurt (Mandela Quarter) in Austria will be an entire neighbourhood built of wood.
  • Barcelona City Council this year approved the construction of 4 new social housing buildings, 3 of them built with wood.

Right now, the main challenge is to come up with technologies that make it possible to build skyscrapers with wood. Many companies are working on this, so we are sure that this will soon become a reality.

Innovations being developed with wood

There are many companies with their sights set on wood, and the innovations being worked on are truly incredible. I'll share a few with you:

  • Transparent wood. Researchers at the University of Maryland developed a method to turn wood into a material that is almost as transparent as glass, but stronger and with better insulating capabilities.
  • Augmented wood. The company Woodoo is working on a touch-sensitive wood, which may have many applications in the electronics sector.
  • 3D printing with wood. The company Desktop Metal developed a 3D printer that uses waste by-products from the wood and paper industry to print new wooden parts.
  • Wood-based LEDs. The WoodNano Tech project, led by Professor Lars Berglund, is focused on developing wood panels that function as LEDs by introducing quantum dots into the wood to create light-emitting diodes.
  • Wood-based "plastic". Researchers at MIT have developed from cellulose nanocrystals a new composite that is as hard as bone and as strong as aluminium, which could become the sustainable alternative to plastics.

Having read this article, what do you think - is wood the material of the future? We think so.

If you're thinking of building a passive wooden house, schedule a video call with us and let's start shaping your project.

You may also be interested in

Wood resistant to adverse weather conditions


In this article, we will debunk some of the most common myths and explain why wood remains a popular and reliable choice for construction.

Read more
prefabricated house

Prefabricated houses: the new trend in sustainable architecture

We talk about prefabricated houses, what they are, what are their advantages and what are their pros and cons depending on the construction materials chosen.

Read more

Are you interested in building a passive house out of wood?
We would love to talk to you

let's start with a video call
Are you interested in building a passive wooden house?
schedule a video call