Up-scaling and mainstreaming sustainable building practices in western China
Up-scaling and mainstreaming sustainable building practices in western China 


In the building industry there has been a resurgence of wood as a building material as actors look for building materials that are more sustainable. Wood is being used more and more in new innovative ways, not traditionally possible, opening new possibilities. No longer is it only used as a cladding material but has in hybrid forms found new uses for example as insulation, or even in the use of high-rise structures. Synthetic wood composite blends for example offer a material that is 100% recyclable yet more durable without losing the typical characteristics of wood, in many cases even better as water resistance and weather resistance are improved and even incorporating self-extinguishing properties. Although harder to completely recycle this can be used again in wood composites. Risks of wood, in its traditional form, such as that of structural failure and burning have been reduced or removed through innovative and hybrid use and design.

One interesting benefit of wood is that it has the potential for cascading use. Even if not recyclable the use of wood as a material in construction before being used to generate energy at the end of its life cycle helps to increase its sustainability potential. However it must be noted that only wood from sustainable sources will have a positive effect on GHG emissions.

Rhomberg‟s “Life-Cycle Tower”: a multi-storey tower based on wood

An interesting concept, in the use of sustainable materials and increasing resource efficiency, which is becoming more prevalent in Europe is that of the use of wood in multi-storey buildings. An example of this is the Life-Cycle Tower in Austria. Using an innovative hybrid building system, from the construction firm Rhomberg Bau, an 8 storeys 27 meter high wood hybrid building was constructed. The concept differs from comparable concepts in that the load bearing structures made of wood are not covered, saving valuable resources. This without loss of fireproofing. In addition although for the greater part was made using wood it is only used where it makes sense. Other materials are used in areas where these are more appropriate. Doubled supports of wood in the façade help to bear the vertical loads. The floors are made of a wood-cement hybrid construction. Here glue laminated timber supports beams are combined with reinforced concrete floors for an extremely stable construction. 










Life-Cycle Tower

Source: www.woodsolutions.com.au

The idea behind the building is to prove that it is possible to build an eco-innovative building that is resource and energy efficient with a 90% better CO2 emissions balance than other comparable buildings. An additional benefit is that through the modular design the construction helped to reduce the working time on-site to half of the time needed for other buildings.

For more good practice examples download our Training Handbook: Sustainable Construction.