Carbon dynamics and GHG implications of increasing wood construction: long-term scenarios for residential buildings in Austria

May 10, 2021, by Carbon Management Journal

“Wooden construction elements often exhibit lower life cycle greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions than conventional counterparts (‘material substitution effect’). Moreover, the building stock represents a carbon (C) sink if timber inflows (construction) surpass outflows (demolition) (‘C-stock effect’).

A dynamic stock model incorporating these effects is applied to quantify potential climate benefits of wood construction in Austria’s residential building sector. If present trends are maintained, culminating in a wood construction share (WCS) of 50% during 2050-2100, building shells could contain three times as much C in 2100 as today. Annual timber demand for residential construction could double, but would remain well below Austria’s current net exports. Compared to a baseline scenario with constant WCS (22%), cumulated GHG savings from material substitution until 2050 are estimated 2 to 4.2 Tg CO2-equivalent – clearly less than savings from C-stock expansion (9.2 Tg). Savings from both effects would double in a highly ambitious scenario (WCS=80% during 2050-2100).

The applied ’Stock Change Approach’ is consistent with IPCC Guidelines, but the above-mentioned savings from C-stock changes would not materialize under the current default GHG inventory accounting approach. Moreover, savings from C-stock effects must eventually be weighed against forest C-stock changes, as growing domestic demand might stimulate wood harvesting.”

Citation: Gerald Kalt (2018) Carbon dynamics and GHG implications of increasing wood construction: long-term scenarios for residential buildings in Austria, Carbon Management, 9:3, 265-275, DOI: 10.1080/17583004.2018.1469948


Image has been adapted from its original form in line with the Creative Commons use license. Credit: Acton Ostry Architects


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.