Wood is an essential building material and has been used for centuries. It is a renewable resource and has excellent properties, including heat resistance, durability and sound absorption. But its performance depends on a wide variety of factors, including dimensional stability, thermal conductivity and chemical resistance.
Although the use of wood is increasing, there are still many limitations. In general, wood has low thermal mass, meaning it does not store thermal energy well. However, it has high temporary carbon storage capacity. Therefore, it is more sustainable than other materials. To improve its performance, wood is impregnated with fatty acids, which increases its latent heat capacity. Moreover, it can be treated with thermo-mechanical pulping, which separates cellulose from lignin and improves its thermal characteristics.
Wood can be manufactured into bio-based composites for building purposes. However, this requires a thorough understanding of the engineering process and product implementation. Consequently, the development of this technology will only be accelerated if research and knowledge is improved.
Bio-based building materials are becoming increasingly popular in construction, replacing traditional concrete and steel products. They are also contributing to a more sustainable built environment by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Many of the new applications are aimed at improving the indoor environment. For example, wood is often used for doors, windows, cladding, decking, load-bearing structures and complementary construction components.
As part of the circular economy, there is an urgent need for more innovation and knowledge about the use of bio-based materials. This is especially true in cold climate regions. The embodied energy of building materials contributes between 10 and 20 percent of the total energy consumption of buildings.
Research is now underway to optimize the performance of wood building elements. One important goal is to increase the fire safety of the end product, which can be achieved by using flame retardants. Another goal is to reduce the cost of bio-based construction materials.
While the potential of wood as a bio-based building material is vast, further knowledge and innovation is necessary. Until then, bio-based construction will remain limited in scale and will not be competitive with conventional building products. Nevertheless, the development of the industry is progressing and is being implemented in several countries.
A recently published 646-page book focuses on the state of the art and the use of bio-based building materials in the European market. It presents the results of studies on different materials and gives guidance on the uses of bio-based products. Among other topics, it explores the role of biobased materials in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals.
The book includes chapters on the advantages and disadvantages of wood, the use of old and new BBBMs, and a discussion of standards. It is the first in-depth study to focus on the performance of bio-based building materials in Europe.
While the market for bio-based construction materials is growing, it is important to improve its efficiency and reduce its environmental impacts. In order to ensure the quality of bio-based products, standards are needed for their development. Moreover, further research is needed to improve their cost.