European Journal of Wood and Wood Products

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 1045–1059 | Cite as

Environmental aspects of material efficiency versus carbon storage in timber buildings

  • Annette Hafner
  • Sabrina Schäfer


This article highlights the interdependencies of carbon storage and material efficiency in timber buildings. These elements appear contradictory in regard to environmental factors. Following a general literature review of environmental aspects of timber buildings and their components, building elements are analyzed in regard to their relevance for both issues. Particular advantages for material efficiency and carbon storage in regard to specific building elements are discussed. The first section summarizes what currently qualifies as the state of art in environmental standards of timber buildings on building level, looking at influence on the sector and on the competition on wooden material for material or energetic use. Calculations on carbon storage of exemplary timber buildings are shown in the following section. A factor for material efficiency of wooden use is hereby introduced. The interdependencies of carbon storage and material efficiency are discussed on the level of building elements and according to necessary requirements. Results show that there is no “best” timber construction that fulfills all requirements, as each building and with that each specific construction needs to fulfill varying circumstances. It is thus demonstrated that it is not enough to only focus on one of the issues. It is important to keep these interconnections in mind for climate discussions in regard to timber buildings and to further optimize timber constructions and buildings to meet both targets.



The named research project “Greenhouse gas balances for timber buildings—Implementation of new requirements for life-cycle-assessments and calculation of empiric substitution factors (GHG—timber buildings)” was funded by the Waldklimafonds, a joined research grant of the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture and the Federal Ministry for the Environment, Nature Conservation, Building and Nuclear Safety. The authors gratefully acknowledge the assistance of all concerned.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Ruhr-UniversityBochumGermany

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