The Amsterdam metropolitan area has long been leading interesting steps towards a carbon neutral future, starting with the very high density of bicycles on its streets and even testing electric boats on its canals. Now the authorities seek to decarbonize in another sector: that of construction.
They call it “the Green Pact of Wood Construction”: as of 2025, 20% of all new home construction projects will have to be wood or other biomass-based products. Both the Amsterdam city council and those of the 32 municipalities that make up its metropolitan area have committed to this.
Less floors, more wood
The requirements of those buildings will change depending on their height. A single family home will need to be constructed of at least 80% wood, while buildings with up to ten floors may reduce that amount to 65% for structural reasons. Buildings of more than ten stories will require a minimum of 50% wood.
Other biomaterials contemplated in the agreement are cork and hemp, or any other material derived from biodegradable matter. The idea is to reduce the use of cement and concrete, essential materials but whose manufacture emits carbon dioxide and nitrogen into the atmosphere.
Forcing these changes on 20% of buildings may seem like little, but a saving of 220,000 tons of carbon dioxide is estimated issued per year. Furthermore, wood can be easily recycled, bringing Amsterdam closer to having a circular economy in which to better reuse its resources.
Amsterdam thus joins a group of cities with similar plans and experiments. Last year France it was proposed make public buildings out of wood, and a few weeks ago New York approved the use of wood in buildings up to 26 meters high. Nothing compared a Skellefteå, a Swedish city where everything is made of wood.
Image | Khara Woods