Wood4Bauhaus Policy Recommendations and Research Needs for the NEB

The Wood4Bauhaus Alliance has published their first set of 10 Policy recommendations and a list of Research Needs and Priorities supporting Sustainable Construction with Nature-based Materials under the European Green Deal.

The New European Bauhaus has unleashed a genuine opportunity to enable the transformation of the construction ecosystem. We need to rethink our relationship with nature and turn the built environment into a carbon sink, especially by using more nature-based materials, such as wood, in construction and renovation.

The Alliance welcomes the enhancement of the sustainability criteria under the revision of the Renewable Energy Directive as part of the ‘Fit for 55’ legislative package. We wish to underline that the material use of wood should be preferred over early energy recovery, where economically and logistically viable, to stimulate industrial symbiosis within the forest-based sector and to sequester more carbon and substitute fossil-fuel intensive materials.

The Wood4Bauhaus Alliance recommends that the upcoming Communication on the New European Bauhaus should encourage nature-based materials, epitomised by wood, and underline their notable double benefit of a) carbon storage in the EU building stock and b) energy-intensive material substitution. In this respect, the Wood4Bauhaus Alliance proposes the following 10 policy recommendations to the European Commission for their consideration

Furthermore, the Wood4Bauhaus Alliance has identified six areas of key importance for research and innovation in the forest-based sector. There is a clear need to close scientific gaps in nature-based materials and building to accelerate the transformation of the construction sector. Nature-based materials, like wood, have a high potential for climate change mitigation, societal impact, and are prime candidates for greater research and innovation support in the construction sector. The areas of key importance are:

  1. NOVEL AND ENHANCED CONSTRUCTION SYSTEMS for carbon-positive, long-life nature-based materials and building products to boost and move the market towards more diversity, higher circularity and affordable solutions. Key topics include: hybrid, modular and novel construction products and systems, maximizing lightweight and insulation properties, design for disassembly and conversion of the building stock to material storage banks, (engineer from buildings back to resources and novel uses: reversible joints and structures, fire safety, alternative and undervalued tree species, wood modification, industrial upscaling, interior uses, standardization (Eurocodes) and building regulations.
  2. CIRCULAR ECONOMY solutions fostering repair, reuse and recycling and tackling waste and environmental issues in the sector. Key topics include: Circular Design, assessing the life span of construction materials, long-life products and enhanced durability, resource and material efficiency, fossil-free, reversible adhesives for load-bearing structures, reverse logistics, waste wood and urban mines, cascade use of materials, valorisation of by-products and side streams, life cycle of buildings, incorporating the Circular Economy of functionalities and new business models into the construction sector.
  3. DIGITALIZATION and Industry 4.0 as key lever to overcome barriers faced by the SME-dominated sector and to support circularity. The goal is to connect entire value chains from resources to manufacturing, customers and users through end-of-life phases. Key topics include: material traceability, resource use optimization (from product to landscape and market level), digital twins/digital design (materials, systems), automation in prefabrication, biobased sensing, logistics, value chain networks, novel platforms and business models, building information models (BIM), intelligent buildings, digital hubs.
  4. INTERDISCIPLINARY research and co-creation to break down silos, achieve a holistic perspective and widen societal impacts. Putting users in focus in all key topics: human health benefits through comfort, wellbeing and productivity enhancements, architecture and urban space, aesthetics, biomimetic/ biophilic design, recovery of traditional knowledge/skills and cultural heritage, the creative sector, open innovation testbeds, citizen science.
  5. FAIR AND INCLUSIVE European Research Area for the sustainable built environment to overcome regional and rural-urban divides and unbalanced representation in research excellence and innovation capacity of nature-based materials. Key topics include: affordable solutions, proactivity for gender diversity in STEM, inclusive and participatory design, Teaming with Widening countries especially Central-Eastern Europe, mobility actions for capacity building, transdisciplinary higher education programmes, upskilling and Dual Learning of the sector workforce, internationalization of the R&I ecosystem.