Study ‘proves wood’s positive impact on environmental and human health’
A EUROPEAN research project by Wood2New has scientifically proven the positive impact of wood. The three-year project, which was finalised earlier this year, shows using wood as a construction material benefits the environment and our health.
Companies, including Kährs Group, collaborated with scientists from six countries in the project; the aim was to map out the effects of using wood in indoor environments, as well as to stimulate increased use of wood in interiors.
On average, we spend 90% of our lives indoors. This means the air quality and indoor temperature affects our health as well as our quality of life.
Impact hadn’t previously been mapped out, so the international research project was initiated in 2014, with wood industry companies and universities participating.
The final report was presented at a seminar in March at Linköping University in Sweden. Scientists engaged in the project state in the report that wood has superior strength in proportion to its weight, is easy to work with, renewable and widely accessible.
It’s quick to work with, promotes good conditions at construction sites, is flexible and provides designers with a great scope of freedom.
Furthermore, wood binds and stores carbon dioxide, evens out indoor humidity and can be recycled. When we, for example, have a shower or cook, it contributes to increased indoor humidity. Wood absorbs this - and later, when it becomes drier, emits humidity; a process that has been studied with a thermo-camera.
‘Apart from the purely technical properties, we’ve also measured the emotional aspects of using wood in health care institutions, for example, through using focus groups in different countries. It’s interesting to note wood is perceived in the same way – regardless of culture – such as natural, warm and cosy.
‘It has a calming effect, as well as good acoustic and air properties,’ says Mark Hughes, professor at the Aalto University in Finland and project coordinator of Wood2New.
The overall goal of the project was to contribute to creating competitive and sustainable wood-based interior products and systems for modern wood constructions through:
1 Identifying opportunities and limitations for using wood interior elements
2 Examining if, and how wood may affect human health
3 Developing, designing and evaluating concepts for sustainability, value-adding, multifunctional wood based interior products and systems
4 Developing business models based on the acquired facts of how wood affects health
The research project has been conducted at Aalto University, Linköping University, Holzforschung Austria, Norsk TreTeknisk Institutt (Norway), Building Research Establishment (UK) and Technisches Büro für Chemie - Dr Karl Dobianer (Austria).
‘We were lucky to be able to engage
such committed partners in Europe, including Kährs Group,’ says Mark Hughes.
The project is part of the international program WoodWisdom-Net+ Research, aimed at strengthening the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s forest and wood industry by developing long-term cooperation between different players.