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Using wood could speed needed home construction

Using wood could speed needed home construction

Regulatory barriers may stand in the way of Luxembourg shifting away from concrete as dominant building material
Wood will also be used in the construction of the  future national archives in Belval
Wood will also be used in the construction of the future national archives in Belval
Photo credit: LW archives

Jean-Michel Hennebert and Yannick Lambert

Using more wood instead of concrete as a core construction material could speed up production of needed housing in Luxembourg, but the effort faces roadblocks unless legislation is adapted.

Wooden construction is being used at a housing project for 2,000 residents near Capellen, a building for four subsidised apartments in Gasperich and the future national archives building in Belval. The projects can be completed faster than when using concrete because many elements are easily pre-manufactured and shipped to the site.

Wood prices have climbed due to increased demand in the US, which last year nearly tripled its timber imports from the European Union. A new effort to promote timber as a sustainable building material is expected to be announced on Monday by Environment Minister Carole Dieschbourg and Economy Minister Franz Fayot.

About 10% of construction in Luxembourg uses wood and that should grow to 15% by the end of this decade, said Philippe Genot, who manages the wood initiative cluster at innovation agency LuxInnovation. But stringent firefighting regulations are impeding the material's broader use.

The Grand Duchy could add thousands of housing units by using wood – a building material that is readily available, more energy-efficient and even stores climate-warming carbon, Energy Minister Claude Turmes said.

Luxembourg aims to have net zero carbon emissions by 2050 while its population is projected to grow by around 50%, even as the country already faces a housing crisis.

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