Skelleftea, Sweden Tackling the Climate Crisis One New Building at a Time

Skelleftea, a city in Sweden, is tackling the climate crisis one newbuilding at a time by bucking the trend of the customarily carbon-heavy construction industry. One such example is the new Sara Culture Centre that opened its doors is September 2021.

The Sara Culture Centre is a 20-story, 75-meter (246 feet) building is the home to six theatre stages, a library, two art galleries, a conference center, and a 205-room hotel. The building was built with 12,000 cubic meters of wood harvested from forestlands just 60km from the city. The design is part of a wider effort in Skelleftea to wean the local construction industry off of environmentally harmful materials.

Robert Schmitz, the architect behind the construction of the Sara Cultural Centre says, “Everyone thought that we were a little bit crazy proposing a building like this in timber. But we were quite pragmatic, so we said that if you can’t make everything in timber, then we can at least do some of it that way. But during the design process, we all came out and said that it’s more efficient to build everything in timber.”

Those behind the Sara Cultural Centre—the second tallest wooden tower in the world—claim the skyscraper will capture nine million kilograms of carbon dioxide throughout its lifetime. But the building’s sustainable focus doesn’t stop there. It also boasts solar panels capable of powering the edifice and storing excess energy in the basement.

Designers say the cultural center can “communicate” with nearby structures and distribute surplus energy as and when required. “It analyses the building’s energy usage, and it can make decisions on how we should run it based on available energy levels,” says Patrik Sundberg, business unit manager at local energy firm Skelleftea Kraft.

Tomas Alsmarker, head of innovation at Swedish Wood, says the country has seen a huge change in building materials over the last five years. For over a century, Sweden had banned wooden homes above two stories high. Now it is the material of choice in the country with the largest percentage of forestland in Europe. “For all buildings up to eight stories high, the question is not whether it’s possible to do it in wood. You should ask why we should not do it in wood.”

FEA compiles the Wood Markets News from various 3rd party sources to provide readers with the latest news impacting forest product markets. Opinions or views expressed in these articles do not necessarily represent those of FEA.