Sustainable success of young timber construction companies is also decided in the political arena
Timber Construction as a way out of the climate crisis
As of today, we are in the midst of a climate crisis. The construction sector is responsible for 40% of global CO2 emissions and is thus one of the biggest “climate sinners” of our time. If we go along with Prof. Hans Joachim Schellnhuber – leading climate impact researcher and co-founder of the “Bauhaus der Erde” initiative – we have the opportunity to “build our way out” of this crisis with wood as a building material.
This is made possible above all by a decisive advantage of timber construction: buildings made of wood are carbon reservoirs that, thanks to circular construction methods, enable CO2 to be stored sustainably and long-term in our built environment by means of cascade effects. For example, it is possible to sequester several hundred kilograms of CO2 over the long term in just one square meter of wall surface in solid wood construction. If we scale this effect and apply it to the German government’s construction targets of 400,000 homes per year, it quickly becomes clear what considerable potential timber construction offers in the fight against climate change.
Technical innovations in timber construction
At TRIQBRIQ, we therefore asked ourselves how we could maximize this positive effect, but without overburdening our native forests. After years of research and development, we are now on the market with our TRIQBRIQ system. Our solid wood building system consists of micro-modular wooden building blocks – the so-called BRIQs. These are manufactured with high precision using robot technology from low-cost industrial and calamity wood – i.e. wood that to date cannot be used in the construction industry in a recyclable manner and even often remains in the forest and rots. The individual BRIQs are placed on top of each other at the construction site and interlocked using beechwood dowels. In this way, load-bearing exterior walls can be erected cost-effectively, flexibly and in a short time. Other advantages include the fact that the BRIQs can be removed by type at the end of a building’s service life and completely reused. Thus, our TRIQBRIQ system offers a holistically sustainable and recyclable alternative to conventional building materials.
Wood construction in politics
But it’s not just in the economy that a lot is happening. Timber construction has also long since arrived in the political arena. Timber construction has also arrived in the political arena. This is demonstrated, among other things, by the coalition agreement of the German government, the EU Green Deal, and the various timber construction strategies at the federal and state levels. Nevertheless, it must be noted that the regulatory status quo currently forces residential and commercial construction in timber construction into a niche existence.
There is a lack of building code framework conditions, targeted subsidies are rare, and topics such as fire protection become an obstacle – without any factual basis.
Unified political demands are central
Timber construction companies must therefore make it their goal to speak with a unified voice and communicate concrete political demands. Important work is being done here by the Coalition for Wood Construction, of which we are a partner company. The following points are derived from the demands of the Coalition for Timber Construction and we as TRIQBRIQ AG consider them as central:
- clarity in the state building codes – especially in fire protection.
When it comes to fire protection, there is an inconsistent presentation of requirements across the state building codes. For building classes (GK) 4 and 5, i.e. buildings with a height of more than 7 m (GK 4) or more than 13 m (GK 5) as well as more than 400 sqm gross floor area, these requirements represent a de facto ban on timber construction in some federal states.
Possible improvements could be realized via the model building code. The state building codes of Baden-Württemberg, Berlin or North Rhine-Westphalia could serve as models here. Here, timber construction is also possible in the higher building classes. Projects such as the SKAIO high-rise wooden building in Heilbronn impressively demonstrate that such a regulation is also sustainable in practice.
- promotion of sustainable timber construction
Particularly from the ranks of the conventional building materials industry, one hears more and more frequently the argument that we do not have enough wood in Germany to realize the urgently needed building turnaround in timber construction solutions. With a view to sustainable and climate-friendly construction and the optimization of supply chains, there must be no ideological bans on the use of wood from our surrounding forests. In Germany, we have a total stock of around 3.4 billion solid cubic meters and are thus very well positioned.
Nevertheless, timber construction needs political support from two directions: On the one hand, government support for forestry is necessary. The aim must be to equip our forests with drought-resistant and climate-adapted tree species as quickly as possible. Secondly, wood research must be promoted. Due to the consequences of man-made human-caused climate change, we are experiencing a drastic decline in the important construction woods spruce and pine. In the future, we need a balanced mixed forest plantation and the economic use of hardwood – also in the construction sector. In order to exclude dubious supply chains, we also need to promote research into sustainable technologies.
- introduction of a Building Life Cycle Act (GLZG).
The currently planned changes to the GEG (Building Energy Law) and the BEG funding (Federal Funding for Efficient Buildings) have no beneficial effect on the building turnaround, the life cycle approach to building, or the use of wood or other recyclable and renewable building materials. The focus is still on energy efficiency and not on the building life cycle and CO2 emissions of the property. Modified construction methods and the reduction of CO2 emissions during construction and demolition of the building are currently not considered. Therefore, incentives for holistic sustainable construction are currently lacking.
A further development of the GEG towards a Building Life Cycle Act (GLZG) along the proposals of the coalition for timber construction is desirable. The main objective is to extend the GEG to include the assessment of CO2 emissions for the construction (A1-5), use (B1-5), disposal (C1-4) and recycling (D) phases of the building. This is done through the life cycle assessment and the building resource passport (as envisaged in the coalition agreement) and thus supplements the GEG in particular with the topics of use of building materials, circularity of the building, life cycle assessment and CO2 emissions in the life cycle.*
Innovative companies must communicate politically
Especially as a young timber construction company, it is important to keep an eye on regulatory framework conditions and at the same time to credibly communicate one’s own political convictions and issues.
For TRIQBRIQ, the GLZG is an important example here. We believe that timber construction is a crucial adjusting screw in the fight against climate change. However, with the current GEG, this adjusting screw is completely blocked. As an innovative wood system manufacturer, we see it as our task in this context to show what the latest technical developments can achieve and which regulatory adjustments are necessary. Because it is clear that we will not reach the 1.5 degree target if we do not make full use of the advantages of modern timber construction. Material innovations need to be installed on a large scale, and this is only possible if we as innovators also demonstrate the points at which policy can support us.
We also find that our political communication – whether at events, in project communities or initiatives – always ensures that we are perceived as a serious innovation driver by any partner companies and third parties. That alone is a considerable value that should not be underestimated for us.
That is why it is especially true for us as a young company: Timber construction must be political!
*Building Life Cycle Act (GLZG), Requirements for a new GEG and sustainable BEG funding, Coalition for Wood Construction, 2022