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Houtbouw XL: Towards Sustainable Construction

The negative environmental impact of traditional building materials is enormous. It's time for a change, and renewable biobased materials, especially wood, can play a decisive role. We look back on the Houtbouw XL event, a day filled with inspiration around sustainable construction.

With great satisfaction, we look back on the Houtbouw XL event; a day filled with inspiration about the role of timber in the transition to sustainable construction. Imme Groet, our Senior Expert Sustainable Construction, was also closely involved in the organisation of this event, together with the Convenant Houtbouw Metropoolregio Amsterdam, Pakhuis de Zwijger, City Deal Circulair en Conceptueel bouwen. Read the news article below to get an update about the day and the current developments in the construction sector regarding timber- and biobased construction.

Why timber- and biobased construction?

The era of concrete, steel, and brick is over; the negative environmental impact of these materials is enormous. It's time for a change, and renewable biobased materials, especially wood, can play a decisive role here. They are the solution to creating a sustainable and future-proof built environment. This way, the demand for housing can continuously to be met in the future. But how do you best apply timber construction? And what do all the different biobased materials have to offer? And what is the precise impact of using timber in construction?

Interesting for the entire construction sector

Houtbouw XL targeted the entire construction sector, which was well represented on the event. Among the more than 300 visitors were many government entities (municipalities), knowledge institutions, housing associations, and various market players (major contractors, small module builders, architects, etc.). The potential of timber for a shift towards a sustainable construction sector was highlighted from various perspectives; some sessions focused on policies (legislation and regulation session), while market pitches were very practically oriented towards current developments and the various concepts made possible by timber construction.

Impression of our visit to the natural pavilion
Group of Hedgehogs during the day-program

The sector is evolving

Since the previous edition of Houtbouw XL in June 2022, there has been tremendous progress and learning in the entire sector regarding timber construction. Various parties, from contractors to banks and governments, are involved in promising initiatives. The momentum is being felt by more and more parties; it's now time to scale up and involve the masses in sustainability.

During the evening program, several (international) examples of large-scale and innovative wood construction projects were presented. For example, the Olympic Games swimming pool complex in Paris is largely constructed in timber, with sustainability and repurposing integrated into the design. As a grand finale, an almost futuristic residential area was presented. This largest wooden new residential district in the world is currently under construction in Stockholm, Sweden.

Future perspectives

In the various sessions and pitches, there was also a forward-looking perspective: what developments can we expect in the coming years regarding timber and sustainable construction? Various banks want to make timber construction more attractive, for example, by offering favorable mortgages for wooden homes. Construction entrepreneurs want to create wooden homes that do not differ in price from industrial concrete homes. And the Dutch government presented a draft version of a parliamentary letter requesting a tightening of the Environmental Performance Indicator (MPG). This tightening will push the market towards building with lower environmental scores and stimulate wood and other biobased construction.

Imme and Philip during the panel-discussion
Imme and Philip (our Co-Founder) during a panel-discussion

Imme Groet, Senior Expert Sustainable Building: "The sector is evolving. Slowly, the conversation is shifting from 'why do you want to build with timber and biobased materials' to 'how should we approach this.' A sense of urgency is gradually emerging among various market players. There is an increasing search for in-depth knowledge about new available systems and the entire development around biobased materials. During Houtbouw XL, we gained new and in-depth insights, and I hope this event brings us a step closer to a biobased construction sector!"

If you want to stay informed about developments in timber and sustainable construction, please subscribe to the newsletter of the Convenant Houtbouw MRA. In this monthly newsletter, you will find updates, events, and in-depth information. Email Imme to get your name on the email list:

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