Despite its commitment to energy efficiency, the construction sector still uses a significant amount of global energy in the production of building materials. Metsä Wood has developed a solution: a self-sufficient mill which produces sustainable building materials with 100% bioenergy.
The European ‘Energy Performance of Buildings Directive’ requires all new builds to reach zero class energy by 2020; however, many architects believe this is not enough. Although an emphasis has been placed on regulating the energy used to operate buildings, the production of building materials has been found to be the most energy intensive phase.
According to Matti Kuittinen, an architect and researcher based at Aalto University, the energy used to produce the materials for building is ’50 times more’ than the energy used to operate it for a year.
He argues for an evaluation of the net energy balance of buildings over their whole life cycle; greater attention must be paid to materials and how they are manufactured and produced.
The Metsä Wood mill in Lohja, which is responsible for the production of Kerto Laminated Veneer Timber (LVL), sets an example for the industry. It works in a way that generates more bioenergy than is used in the process.
The sawdust and wood chips, which are generated in processing the engineered wood, are used for bioenergy production, as well as pulp. Next to the mill, a bio heating plant has been erected to capture the full potential of the production process.
The heat energy produced at the plant covers both the needs of the mill and the surrounding town, making the mill completely self-sufficient. The heat produced for the town of Lohja compensates for the purchase of electricity, which is needed for the mill’s operation.
Lohja is part of Finland’s national scheme to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2030. Metsä Wood’s bio heating plant, which covers 80% of the town’s heating, has helped Lohja to reach its target of a 15% reduction by 2016.