Towards sustainable construction

The first session of Aalto Sustainability Talks for 2021 addresses the necessity and possible pathways of the construction sector to shift towards more sustainable ways of operation.
Aalto Sustainability Talks colourful circle-logo, turquoise background: Towards sustainable construction, 12.3.2021/9:00-10:15 Online-webinar..
Aalto sustainability talks logo: a colourful wheel in UN sdg colors, pointing out the SDD#9. Turquoise background, and white Georgia font with the event headline and date&time.

Recording: Towards sustainable construction (external link)

Recording of Aalto Sustainability Talks : Towards sustainable construction 12.3.2021

Towards sustainable construction

At present, up to 40% of the global energy consumption is attributed to buildings. Due to the carbon intensive energy production, it makes the building sector the single most significant industry in terms of global carbon dioxide emissions. Additionally, the construction industry is directly linked to many other adverse environmental impacts, such as raw material extraction, landfill waste, and water consumption. With current projections predicting significant future increases in construction activities, it is critical for the sector, following the UN global sustainable development goal #9, to retrofit the industries towards increased resource-use efficiency and greater adoption of clean and environmentally sound technologies.

This session of the Aalto Sustainability Talks brings together experts to discuss steering construction to sustainable paths, especially in terms of wood construction. The presentations highlight the potential, but also pitfalls of wood construction from the view point of consumer individuals, and questions of sustainable wood supply and life cycles of wooden structures. This approach underscores apart from the materially defined impacts of construction, also the multiple social, economic, and political dimensions of construction activities, that are linked with several other sustainability targets.



Pekka Heikkinen, Professor of Practice, Department of Architecture

Architecture for the Anthropocene

Matti Kuittinen, Adjunct Professor of Resource-efficient construction at Aalto University School of ARTS, Department of Architecture

Abstract: Because of the ongoing global climate crisis and biodiversity loss that define the Anthropocene, the construction sector is about to face significant changes. These changes apply not only to the design of the buildings, but to the management of material and energy flows throughout the built environment. Although digitalisation will help in this quest, designers will need to train their senses beyond traditional sustainability thinking.

Wooden housing as a sustainable consumption choice

Juudit Ottelin, Postdoctoral Researcher, Department of Built Environment

Abstract: While the climate benefits of harvested wooden products (HWP) have been studied from the forest- and construction sectors point of view, the consumer perspective has received less attention. Sustainable consumption choices are not made in a vacuum, and one decision affects the others. What are the greenhouse gas implications of wooden housing on a consumer carbon footprint? Can consumers go "carbon negative"?

Wood construction and the need for a materials efficient future

Mark Hughes, Professor of Wood material technology at the Aalto School of Chemical Engineering

Abstract: The use of wood in buildings has frequently been promulgated as a means of making construction more sustainable. Is it as simple as this though? Although wood is a renewable resource there are limits to the sustainable harvesting of timber. What strategies should we adopt in order to make the most of our wood resources and minimize the environmental impact of construction?

Pekka Heikkinen, 2020. Photo: Jouni Harala.
Pekka Heikkinen. Photo: Jouni Harala, 2020.

Pekka Heikkinen is Professor of Practice at the Department of Architecture with expertise areas on wood construction, eco-efficient building design and architectural design. He has worked as the director of Wood Program since 2000 and as the professor of Wood Architecture since 2008.

Black & white face image of smiling Matti Kuittinen.
Matti Kuittinen

Matti Kuittinen is Adjunct Professor of Resource-efficient construction at Aalto University, Department of Architecture. He has served since 2016 as senior specialist in construction at the Ministry of Environment. His research focuses on architecture of especially wood construction, life cycle assessment and carbon footprinting of construction, and humanitarian construction.

Juudit Ottelin
Juudit Ottelin

Juudit Ottelin is a Postdoctoral Researcher in Real estate economics at the Department of Built Environment. Juudit's main research streams focus on studying the environmental impacts of economic activities and human behaviour in the built environment with a systemic approach, with a particular interest in the rebound effects of consumption and development of environmental assessment methods. 

CHEM_prof Mark Hughes
Mark Hughes

Mark Hughes is Professor of Wood material technology at the Aalto University Department of Bioproducts and Biosystems. His research interests include wood in resource-and energy efficient construction and the application of circular economy principles in the wood value chain for sustainable construction.

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