The climate emergency is one of many challenges that the construction industry faces. Given that this sector is responsible in around 40% of global greenhouse gases emissions, it should be a top priority to aim for net-zero, climate-neutral architecture. While most buildings still have a lot of work to do to eliminate carbon dioxide emissions, this concept is rapidly gaining popularity and will be the norm in the near future. The following question is posed: How can architects, designers, and other actors in the industry contribute towards sustainable design and net zero architecture?
The answer is simple: Innovation. Over the years, the design community has witnessed many milestones in the construction industry, including digital fabrication, 3D technologies, advanced construction techniques, and improved manufacturing processes. They have the knowledge and tools to invent new building materials and products that are more climate-friendly. Wood Tube, a Swedish company that is part of the leading bioeconomy cluster Paper Province has just launched a new product: lightweight studs made from wood-based pulp. These studs are affordable, simple to use, and contribute to a more sustainable construction process, which is a great sign of hope for net-zero architecture.
A simple idea transformed into an innovative construction material
A stud, a vertical framing member, is typically made from timber or steel and forms part of a wall. They are used to hold windows, doors, insulation and utilities in place. Wood Tube is made from a wood fiber that has been chemically or mechanically reduced into pulp. It is commonly used in the production of paper. Tobias Soderbom Olsson, Wood Tube, shared more details and explained how the idea was born. Kurt Hardig, Patrik Kampe and Tobias Soderbom Olsson, were walking through the city when they noticed how much steel was being used. This is how the product was created.
“Having a background in paper industry, they thought: What if we could instead build with paper? They had this idea in their heads and designed a stud for interior walls. That’s how Wood Tube paper Stud was born. – Tobias Soderbom Olsson
Contributing towards a more sustainable built environment
The paper studs are currently manufactured in Saffle (Vamland) (Sweden). This region is well-known for its strong bioeconomy and rich forests. It is a bio-based product, which can be recycled as regular cardboard. The paper studs are made from FSC certified papers. This means that they have been responsibly sourced wood fibre. This material has a lot to offer in terms of sustainability, especially when compared with traditional wood and other steel alternatives.
A life-cycle analysis revealed that Wood Tube emits 14x less CO2 than steel equivalents, which reduces emissions by 92%. This is significant considering that they are used in large quantities. When it comes to the replacement of wood, there is an advantage to using paper as a source material. One tree can produce four times as many paper studs than standard wooden options. This means that less material is required, which allows for more trees to grow in forests and reduces costs. Wood is an extremely useful and beautiful material. Therefore, more wood can be used for load-bearing structures and other architectural elements. Rather than hiding it behind a wall, it seems that this will lead to the right direction. Wood Tube is a way to make the forest industry more sustainable by reducing CO2 emissions dramatically and making use of wood raw materials more efficiently.
Simple installation and many applications
The installation process is straightforward and easy. Tobias Soderbom Olsson says that walls are constructed in a traditional way, similar to wall framing using steel studs. However, you replace the steel with a piece of paper. Because of their light weight and softness they are easy to lift, which makes it a great tool for improving the work conditions of carpenters. Wood Tube’s ease of installation makes it ideal for many purposes. Wood Tube is used primarily for interior wall framing but they can also be made in different sizes and shapes to suit different purposes. They are suitable for furniture frames and can be used to create rigid beds, sofas, doors, and other items.
Vasakronan, a Swedish real estate firm, and Veidekke, a construction company, were the first to use Wood Tube’s paper-studs in Stromshuset. This well-known building has a strong environmental profile. The studs were used to build the interior walls of commercial and modern offices.
Future vision: Affordable housing and greener cities
Wood Tube’s ultimate goal is to make the construction industry more sustainable and to provide affordable, safe and environmentally-friendly housing. How? How? By offering sustainability, high-performance and cost-effectiveness, and making it easy for architects and customers to choose climate-smart materials. Paper studs can be revolutionized in this way.
To continue on the path to net-zero architecture it is crucial to invest in and continue developing bio-based and resource-efficient products that promote the wellbeing of people and the environment. Contributing to a healthier, greener built environment using environmentally responsible materials is an important step towards ensuring that future generations live in cleaner and more sustainable cities.