Buildings constructed with more wood, and less cement and steel, would help decarbonize the construction and housing industries in line with global goals to cut greenhouse gas emissions 50 percent by 2030 and reach net zero emissions by 2050, new research shows.
The paper, published Aug. 30 in Nature Communications, explains that building mid-rise wood dwellings to meet the demand from rapidly expanding urban populations could avoid about 100 gigatons of carbon dioxide emissions through 2100—about 10 percent of the reduction needed to cap global warming below 2 degrees Celsius.
“We do know we need to reach this net zero target as soon as possible,” said lead author Abhijeet Mishra, with the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impacts Research. “Reaching 1.5 degrees is getting quite dicey to achieve. An earlier paper from our colleagues really looked at how buildings can be a global carbon sink.” But that work did not answer the question of where the wood would come from. “The idea was to fill that gap,” he said.
The scale of wood construction envisioned would require about 555,000 square miles of additional tree plantations, an area slightly bigger than Alaska, on top of the 505,000 square miles of tree farms that exist globally today. [Continue reading…]