New York City
Construction uses close to half of all non-renewable global resources, produces approximately 50% of all waste generated prior to recycling, and built environments are responsible for 45% of energy consumption. At the same time, the building sector is an important contributor to the US GDP and a vital source of employment yet there is little government spending or tax subsidies in relation to comparable industries. Designers and builders can make greater efforts to bring about change in the way the world builds and lives today, but it will be the joint effort between the construction industry, forestry sector, the public, and legislation that will really bring about a new culture of wood.
Wood 2.0 (W2.0) promotes the substitution of high-embodied energy construction materials like steel and concrete with wood, which can lower CO2 emissions and fossil fuel consumption. Greater use of wood in construction will increase demand for timber. In response to wood demand, more sustainable forestry practices will result. Larger forest cover and increased wood product manufacturing can expand biomass production. Combined with advanced wood combustion systems, wood fuel can be a viable source of renewable energy. A growing forest cover will additionally sequester more CO2 from the atmosphere naturally.
W2.0 challenges current conventions of economy, the built environment, and available resources of place. Its proper implementation can result in not only increased forest cover, but also more efficient use of this natural resource. As wood biomass becomes a reliable form of green energy, forests will form an important part of energy policies placing higher value on trees. New wood technologies offer increased structural capabilities, enhanced physical properties, efficient manufacturing processes, and improve construction methods and delivery systems. Cross-laminated timber (CLT) technology already marks an important moment in the evolution of wood as a construction material that will play a significant role in the building sector. Such diversification of wood use in energy, construction, manufacturing, and recycling will make wood an integral part of a sustainable future. Wood economies are renewable, and can provide a sustainable business model for generations. Successful wood-intensive cultures provide examples for developing countries with less traditional industries to realize alternative economies that are both sustainable and profitable. Afforestation may one day replace deforestation as wood-based societies multiply. W2.0 has the potential to indirectly reduce deforestation, add new forest ecosystems, improve health, offset reliance on fossil fuels, and promote stable economies.
The current state of the construction industry increasingly places more pressure on the environment. Efforts to introduce sustainable design are important, but at the moment, "green" buildings represent only 2% of commercial buildings in the U.S. and 0.3% of new homes. Wood is the only renewable building material and it is a truly carbon neutral product when combined with responsible recycling and reuse at the end of building life cycles. By designing and building more efficiently with wood—buildings, infrastructures, even furniture—we can begin a new culture of wood.
Decisions that lead to better buildings—utilization of resources; assembly methods; improved performance; waste reduction—are all inter-related. These relationships have far reaching impacts and can be more meaningful if they are capitalized. Intensive wood use can lead to increased forests. Wood biomass production is more efficient from a cascade use of wood fibers—favoring material use, re-use and recycling before energy use. But the most powerful relationship is the idea that deforestation cannot be stopped until the economics of wood can compete with other activities. W2.0 works towards these ends arguing for a new wood-intensive economy.