TU Delft launches online course Sustainable Building with Timber

News - 17 July 2023 - Communication BK

Building with Timber as an answer to current climate, resource and housing challenges.

“The way we construct our buildings needs to change.” says Arjan van Timmeren professor of Environmental Technology & Design at TU Delft. Over 35% of our global greenhouse gas emissions are attributable to the built environment. A third of that amount is specifically related to the production of abiotic (non-renewable) materials such as concrete, metals and plastics. The associated challenges are not only climate related, but also concern resource scarcity, health and housing provision. “One of the most promising solutions is building with wood and other biobased materials from sustainably managed sources.”

Holistic understanding of sustainable timber construction

The newly designed online course Sustainable Building with Timber course offers a carefully crafted curriculum designed to give participants a holistic understanding of sustainable timber construction. Thanks to this course, all stakeholders in the built environment – architects, developers, engineers, consultants and policy makers, as well as students – can gain knowledge and skills needed to exploit the enormous potential of timber construction. During this course participants learn, among other things, that sustainable forest management is an essential prerequisite for the use of timber in construction. Sustainable forest management allows us to use wood while preserving forests without harming their ecological, social and economic functions. Sustainably produced wood contributes to carbon sequestration, both in forests and in buildings.

Timber construction innovations in architecture, engineering and production

Innovations in architecture, engineering and manufacturing mean that almost any building - including high-rise buildings - can be built in timber. Using case studies, the course covers typologies of timber buildings for low-rise, medium-rise and high-rise buildings, as well as strategies for circular timber construction for renovating and upgrading existing buildings. Designs for (de)assembly and identify different timber structures, their components and adaptability are the focus. Façade typologies and their anatomy, indoor comfort and mechanical properties, and application of hardwood and softwood are also discussed.

Healthy construction and healthy buildings

Thanks to various developments in construction methods and manufacturing processes, huge composite parts made of solid wood can be manufactured, enabling large-scale use of wood in the built environment, even for high-rise buildings. Wood is also ideal for prefabrication, allowing most of the construction labour to take place in production halls and making the construction process itself on location cleaner, faster and of higher quality, with less inconvenience on site, also to the environment. Circular construction practices make it possible o reuse timber structures at individual building and regional levels.. This, compared to traditional constructions, will result in healthier buildings that store carbon instead of emitting it, while the raw material grows back in sustainably managed forests.

Home for the future

The course was developed as part of the HOME for the future project. This ambitious project, initiated by FSC® Netherlands and FSC® Denmark, aims to increase the amount of wood from sustainably managed forests used in social housing construction. The project includes several activities: improving the position of wood as a building material in legislation, increasing knowledge about building with wood in the construction industry and producing life cycle analyses (LCAs) and product maps (EPDs) to be added to the National Environmental Database. Furthermore, tools are being developed to better identify the cost and climate benefits of building with wood. HOME for the future is part of the EU LIFE program. 

More information

  • The first edition, of this seven-week online course will start on 15 november 2023.
  • For more information and to register, visit TU Delft online learning.
  • This MOOC is in line with the faculty's goal to drive the transition to biobased construction, in order to reduce CO2 reduction throughout the construction chain. Read more here.
  • The 'Sustainable Building with Timber' course was developed by TU Delft's Faculty of Architecture and the Built Environment and the TU Delft Circular Built Environment Hub, in collaboration with VIA University College Denmark, FSC® Netherlands, Ssse OvO associates architects, Lister Buildings, AMS Institute, Material District, geWOONhout, TBI woonlab, Waechter + Waechter architects and TU Darmstadt.
  • Read more about the Home for the future project here.
Header image: Houtlab Nieuwkuijk, realised by Woody Building Concepts.