Center for Light and Environmentally-Friendly Structures ZELUBA®

Research project

Wood construction under the influence of climatic change

Development of strategies for ensuring the suitability for use

Buildings constructed from wood help in the observance of environmental and climate targets. They conserve resources and serve as CO2 storage devices. But are the wooden buildings constructed today capable of withstanding the future effects of climate change? This is the key question for this project. We analyze and evaluate the suitability for use of wooden buildings in Germany, taking into account the expected climatic conditions for the next 100 years, i.e. up to the year 2115. Using the knowledge gained, we then derive strategies for action.

© Fraunhofer WKI | Norbert Rüther
Typical timber frame house with thermal insulation composite system with insulation boards made of wood fibres.

Buildings made from masonry, steel, wood and concrete are very durable when correctly executed. For the production of masonry, steel and concrete, however, finite resources such as sand, limestone and iron ore are required - as is a great deal of energy. Furthermore, large quantities of CO2 are released due to the high energy input during the production and transport of these building materials as well as through chemical processes during cement production.

In view of climate change, the scarcity of raw materials and rising energy prices, wood as a building material is increasingly moving into the focus of politics and the construction industry.

Construction timber has a significantly lower energy requirement than conventional building materials, is regenerative and, furthermore, is also locally available. During its utilization period, wood stores CO2, thereby relieving the atmosphere. With regard to climate change, it is therefore advantageous for timber buildings to have as long a service life as possible.

In order to find out what effects climate change has on the service life of timber buildings, we are carrying out the following investigations within this project in collaboration with the project partner Holzbau Deutschland-Institut:

  • In Work Package 1, we define the boundary conditions for the simulations to be used by means of literature researches, analyses of climatic models and frequency of damage occurrence.
  • In Work Package 2, the modelling and simulation is performed.
  • In Work Package 3, we apply sensitivity analyses and statistical evaluations in order to evaluate and define the critical points for the derivation of action strategies.

Project partner

  • Holzbau Deutschland-Institut

Results

Wooden buildings withstand climate change and help bind CO2. Based on current climate forecasts, no physical damage to timber buildings is to be expected today or in the next 100 years. For future construction planning, the researchers have also developed recommendations for protection against heat, wood pests and extreme weather events such as storms and heavy rain.

Funding

Funding body: German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture within the framework of the Waldklimafonds (forest climate funds)

Project management: German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food

Duration: 1.6.2018 to 30.12.2018

Funded by the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture by decision of the German Parliament
Projektträger Bundesanstalt für Landwirtschaft und Ernährung (German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food)
Waldklimafonds (forest climate funds)