Environmental friendliness and ecology are more and more important to builders when planning their home. Your choices can have a significant effect on the environment and its wellbeing – this is why it is vital to understand what kind of home you are going to build. This blog assembles information on why we can call Honkarakenne log houses environmentally friendly.
We interviewed Antti Virkkunen, an engineer specialising in carbon footprint calculation at Vesitaito Oy, and Jukka Rintamäki, Product Development Manager at Honkarakenne, about environmentally friendly construction. They will explain which factors make log homes environmentally friendly.
What kind of house is environmentally friendly?
The entire life cycle of a house is important.
The environmental friendliness of a house depends on its entire life cycle. An environmentally friendly house consumes as little energy as possible, for example, and is built using renewable materials, such as wood and other wood-based products, to the greatest extent possible. It is important that production of building materials consumes as little energy as possible, resulting in a low level of CO2 manufacturing emissions.
The materials must also be sustainably and locally produced to minimise emissions due to transportation.
Antti Virkkunen, Vesitaito Oy
“The energy consumption of an environmentally friendly house is as low as possible throughout the building’s life cycle, which in practice requires e.g. well-insulated structures, high-insulation windows and doors, good airtightness of the building and efficient heat recovery capacity of the ventilation unit. A heating system based on renewable energy should be chosen as the source of heating energy,” says Jukka.
Choices made when designing a house are also important to environmental friendliness. A house should be designed to be the right size for its users, taking account of modifiability as life situations change.
“Of course, you should also consider the plot’s location. If it is located far from services, you will probably need a car to get around,” says Antti.
“You should be able to re-use the building’s construction materials at the end of the building’s life cycle. For example, the logs of the building’s frame can be processed into other wood products or into biofuel, or burned for energy,” Jukka points out.
Honka homes are made of Finnish solid wood of the highest quality, based on experience gained from over 60 years in our factory in Karstula, Central Finland.
And is a log house an environmentally friendly alternative?
Why do we at Honkarakenne dare to say that our log houses are environmentally friendly? We have multiple facts and grounds; here’s the list by our R&D Engineer:
- A log is a renewable natural material:
Only Finnish pine and spruce, which are fully renewable natural materials, are used as raw material for Honkarakenne logs.
- The energy needs for manufacturing are low:
It should be noted that a low amount of energy is needed to manufacture both logs and other wooden parts of log houses, so very low CO2 emissions are generated during manufacturing. In fact, more carbon dioxide is bound in house log walls than is generated during their manufacture.
- The raw material is used in full, without wasting anything:
All leftover wood created as a by-product of manufactured logs and other parts of log houses can be used for heating buildings or as animal bedding on farms. Any logs or other wooden products created during manufacture that do not meet Honkarakenne’s strict quality criteria are utilised as packaging material.
- Raw material from sustainably managed forests:
Honkarakenne only uses Finnish timber from sustainably managed forests that have been PEFC certified. In practice this means, for example, that for every felled tree a new sapling is planted.
- Short transportation distances:
Honkarakenne’s factory is situated in Karstula, in central Finland. Thanks to this location, transportation distances to any part of the country are relatively short.
- We select as many renewable construction materials as possible:
All load-bearing structures of a log house are naturally made of wood, as are most of the exterior and interior cladding materials. Wood-based fibre materials are used for the heat insulation of the roof and, if necessary, exterior walls, and as sound insulation in intermediate walls and floors. Wood-based materials are also used for sheathing.
- A log frame together with all other wood material used for a log house stores a large amount of carbon:
During their entire growth period, trees store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, keeping it inside the wood material throughout its life cycle until the wood is eventually re-used in energy production, or it rots. According to the Natural Resources Institute Finland, one cubic metre of manufactured wood has absorbed 518 kilogrammes of carbon dioxide. Wood is a unique and by far the most environmentally friendly construction material. A carbon footprint and handprint calculation provides home builders with a better understanding of what kind of house is genuinely ecological.
- The timber frame can be re-used:
At the end of its life cycle, a timber frame can be made into other wood products, used as biofuel or converted into energy by burning.
We are also the only company in the industry to have the ISO 9001 ERP system and ISO 14001 environmental management system. In practice, this means that environmental aspects and effects are taken into account in all stages of manufacture and construction.
Jukka Rintamäki, Honkarakenne Oyj
How do calculations correlate with a log house’s environmental friendliness?
A carbon footprint calculation can determine the amount of emissions a building will generate during its life cycle. In addition to carbon footprint, a handprint is also calculated for the building, measuring its positive climate impacts. The carbon handprint size depends on carbon absorbed by the structures, and the benefits gained from recycling the construction materials.
We compared our 130-sq.m. Honka Oula log house to ones made of stone and wood
The carbon footprint is almost the same, but there is a big difference in the carbon handprint. A log house has the biggest carbon handprint, because its structures absorb carbon and the log frame can be recycled.STUDY THE CALCULATIONS
And what makes a new building energy-efficient?
Of course, with regard to energy-efficient houses, overall energy consumption must be low. With the modern solutions we have developed, we have significantly improved the energy efficiency of log houses. A properly designed and built log house is extremely well sealed.
Honka’s Environmental Promise
We are committed to:
- Using only Finnish pine from sustainably managed forests
- Ensuring the ecological integrity of our entire production process
- Ensuring the energy efficiency and longevity of our log homes and their environmental friendliness
- Continually working to improve our environmental responsibility
Our vision of sustainable construction
We need a value debate on domestic construction. In too many cases, tight schedules and the pursuit of quick profits win over quality, reason and reflection. What if the key issues were health, a long service life, Finnish origins, the environment, and future generations?READ MORE