The Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) released a new report (11-6-23) stating Canada could become a world leader in sustainable construction if the country shifts to mass timber for buildings.
The report, Timber Rising: How Wood Can Spur Canada’s Green Building, found that steel and concrete in Canadian construction projects release 92 megatons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere—13% of all emissions in 2022. The building sector is the third most carbon intensive industry in Canada.
According to RBC, widespread adoption of wood, specifically mass timber, as a substitute or complement to concrete and steel could cut embodied emissions in buildings by as much as 25%. Emissions could be cut by 5.5 megatons if one third of large new construction projects by 2030 were made with mass timber instead of steel and concrete.
Myha Truong-Regan, head of climate research at the RBC Climate Action Institute, wrote, “Now is the time for all players in the building sector to work together to act on these challenges and solutions. And for Canada to showcase to the world that we are a nation of innovators in building construction and climate action.”
Additionally, RBC estimated the greater use of mass timber in building construction could conservatively grow the mass timber market by $1 billion by 2030. A share of this growth is anticipated to flow to Indigenous communities as they are in the employment catchment areas for logging sites, sawmills, and mass timber manufacturing facilities.
Given Canada’s vast forest resources, the report made the case that the country could create a global marketplace for mass timber and become a world leader in the market when it comes to sustainable construction practices.
“We may be on the cusp of the next wave of sustainable buildings made with low-carbon mass timber and assembled like an Ikea wardrobe to help bring down emissions,” Truong-Regan wrote.
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