The Netherlands is struggling to keep pace with its need for new homes and the materials needed for them. To solve this issue, the country believes it has found an answer in its own woodlands.
According to renowned architect Marco Vermeulen, the Netherlands could build a million new homes from sustainably harvested local wood and save 100 megatons of carbon in the process. The Dutch architect has calculated that the country’s 140,000 hectares of harvestable woodlands could provide enough timber for 22,000 houses each year. This means the country’s entire shortfall of a million homes could be met within 45 years without using concrete or steel, which contributes to climate change.
The Netherlands has 365,000 hectares of forest. Of this, 225,000 hectares are protected, but the remainder is formerly productive woodland, planted for the match and clock-making industries. Making use of this timber for accommodation would lock up 45 megatons of carbon dioxide, but the total benefit would be 100 megatons, since building out of concrete and steel would lead to emissions of 55 megatons.
Bearing in mind that concrete and steel are some of the most polluting materials on earth, it seems that switching to timber to build our homes may not be such a bad idea in the end.