Timber as a competitive structural building material in the Netherlands

Qualification and quantification of the conditions under which structural timber is competitive with concrete

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To mitigate climate change and to reach Dutch targets to reduce greenhouse gas emissions with 49% by 2030, emissions by the construction industry must be lowered. Developments regarding mass timber construction have increased the potential to do so. This thesis addresses the problem that the opportunity of reducing CO2 emissions by constructing in timber is not utilised to its full potential. Timber can contribute because the production of structural timber elements is less carbon intensive compared to concrete, the most used structural building material in the Netherlands. Additionally, timber has the capacity to capture and store carbon. From a literature study it is concluded that one of the main reasons for the reluctance towards timber structures is the perception of higher cost.

The goal of this thesis is to qualify and quantify the conditions under which timber structures can be competitive with concrete structures in the Netherlands. For two designs to compete at the same level they must have the same potential profit and serve the same function. Nine interdependent variables are investigated in this research: |1| building use, |2| vertical bearing system, |3| stability system, |4| structural floor system, |5| floor span, |6| building height, |7| CO2 emission costs, |8| additional revenue for timber structures, and |9| the calculation method regarding biogenic carbon.

It is found that considering both the costs and the (non-financial and financial) benefits is important when choosing a structural building material. The competitiveness of timber structures increases if CLT is efficiently used with a limited building height and reduced floor span. Imposing a CO2 tax will give the industry an incentive to reduce CO2 emissions and therefore use timber more frequently, which is essential to mitigate climate change.