The Wooden Century – TNO

The construction branch struggles with meeting the current housing demand in the Netherlands and its huge environmental impact. Conventional building materials such as concrete contribute to the environmental burden, causing TNO to be interested in whether wood construction, especially cross laminated timber (CLT), would be part of the solution for the current problems in the construction branch. This led to the question: what is required to upscale CLT in the construction branch in the Dutch construction market?

We aimed to investigate this by firstly taking a step back from CLT, and find out whether CLT is indeed the most promising wood construction product (WCP). After comparing seven WCPs with each other we concluded that CLT is indeed the most promising WCP to compete with traditional construction products. Next, we interviewed stakeholders which are part of the supply chain of CLT or can affect its demand to see what would be required for each stakeholder to implement CLT. Similarly, we asked such questions to the general public by means of a survey.

After our research we would recommend to, firstly, increase the knowledge regarding CLT, mainly in the chain that can affect the demand. They are very interested and highly important to upscale CLT. However, they lack know-how and the ability to gather information quickly, causing the scalability of CLT to slow down. We would increase easy accessible information, increase cooperation between all stakeholders to share information and increase media coverage in order to increase awareness for CLT. Secondly, we would recommend to start now and make use of the possibilities CLT currently offers. Important for this is to reduce the perceived risk of the different stakeholders when building with CLT and explain the possibilities they have with for instance using a pilot to build with CLT. In addition, we perceived a clear shift of different stakeholders to investigate their possibilities regarding CLT. Our third recommendation is to stay alert on the environmental impact of CLT. The supply chain seems to be able to cope with the increased demand, but it is important to stay critical on the product that is used. An interesting example of this would be to keep an open mind towards the development of glues used for CLT and keep an eye on the usage of certified wood for CLT.

Pien Jellema, Tom Hellings and Chiara de Jong