“Wood is a material that binds carbon dioxide, and as Helsinki seeks to become carbon neutral by 2035, it’s self-evident that wood construction should be an element that furthers that goal,” states Helsinki Deputy Mayor Anni Sinnemäki.

Consequently, Helsinki strives to promote wood construction in multiple ways.

“Myself, I’m thinking that we should consider whether to set a definite objective with a percentage defined for wooden buildings and wood construction, when policies are next defined for building construction and land use in Helsinki,” Sinnemäki says.

Sinnemäki reminds us that requirements for building energy efficiency are becoming increasingly stringent. Helsinki applies higher energy efficiency standards in building construction than those enforced nationally. When the energy used by buildings during use is reduced, the role of materials used in buildings becomes more pronounced.

The number of wooden multi-storey buildings to double in the future

Wooden multi-storey buildings are becoming increasingly prevalent in Helsinki, and wood construction is one component of the City of Helsinki programme to develop diverse aspects related to the design and construction of apartment buildings (Kehittyvä kerrostalo).

Wood has been a key material in the City of Helsinki’s own housing production since the 1990’s. At that time, however, wood construction still played a small role in the overall building construction activity in Helsinki, as there were no building system suppliers in the market, and multi-storey wooden buildings were built only from “long products”, that is, unprocessed construction materials cut to length, otherwise processed and assembled at the site.

Seidi Kivisyrjä, Head of Housing Production at City of Helsinki, says that new expertise has since entered the market, but a great deal remains to be accomplished. We’re still far from a situation in Helsinki in which wooden multi-storey buildings would be considered a normal element of the cityscape.

“In the next few years, we’ll be seeing twice as many wooden apartment buildings in the City of Helsinki housing production as the total number of them built so far in Helsinki,” Kivisyrjä says.

Wooden apartment buildings constructed in Helsinki to date comprise 450 homes. Consequently, there will be another 900 homes in wooden apartment buildings in Helsinki in the near future.

Abridged from an article published on Helsinki New Horizons (full article in Finnish)

Text by Kirsi Riipinen
Photo by Anders Portman