Wood and wood products over a lifetime

On average, EU citizens spend 90% of their time indoors, meaning the quality of indoor environment is of utmost importance. Given this high percentage of time indoors, the materials used for the building’s construction and interior design are of importance for general well-being. The construction materials, which remain hidden to the user, and the cover materials influence the well being of the people within a building through a number of conscious and subconscious factors. On a list of building materials, a special mention must go to wood, which is a traditional construction material with proven beneficial influence on well being when used in construction.

Another important aspect where building materials play a key role is the use of energy and natural resources. Building usage in the EU is responsible for roughly 40% of energy consumption and 36% of greenhouse gas emissions. Furthermore, the construction industry is behind 32% of waste material produced and more than 50% of use of non renewable raw resources. The use of wood in construction is almost the perfect answer to these challenges. Wooden buildings are typically very energy efficient; the emissions incorporated into such buildings are lower than in solid construction and wood is a renewable building material that can be both recycled and reused.

However, construction with wood is not simple and errors occur in practice which are mostly the result of bad examples in construction. Often, users of buildings attribute these shortcomings to the type of construction in general and not to specific examples, because wood has traditionally been perceived as a non-durable material. Wood rot and flammability are the two characteristics often pointed out by the broader public as the key weakness of wooden construction. This is why the WOOLF project is developing solutions that will help prevent the errors that could lead to sub-optimal performance of a building, through in depth understanding of the degradation processes, construction in controlled conditions and ongoing monitoring of the condition of various parts of the building. We will tackle this issue through a general understanding of wood rot given the external factors and further focus on development of one crucial element of any building, its windows. The goal of the WOOLF project is to develop wooden structural and window systems that will enable the construction of multi story modular wooden buildings and to integrate newly developed sensor technology into them. In combination with the newly developed ICT smart system it will be possible to monitor the quality of wood and wooden objects in real time and to predict their service life-time.