Capturing Carbon

Sarah Hicks

To keep the global average temperature from rising by more than 1.5°C — the threshold identified by scientists the world over as the one we need to stay under to avoid climate disaster — we need to reduce our carbon and greenhouse gas emissions significantly. Our forests have a critical role to play in this fight. Over 40% of Canada is covered by the Boreal Forest, which means we have the ultimate carbon sink and one of the world’s most renewable and sustainable resources. But how we manage our forests and what we choose to create from this renewable resource matters.

Today, construction, maintenance, and demolition of the built environment is a leading source of the world’s CO2 emissions. In the face of climate change, exponential population growth, and urban densification, it is imperative that society develops sustainable building solutions to meet growing housing and infrastructure needs without accelerating climate change.

To achieve these critical outcomes, the building industry must be empowered to tackle these challenges with every possible tool. The industry cannot improve by doing things the way they have always been done, and small incremental changes over time will not be enough. New products, new systems, and new ways of thinking must prevail.

This understanding of the need for a radical shift in the way we do things is fueling what can only be described as a “mass timber revolution” in the construction industry. Environmentally responsible development requires high-performance buildings that pay greater attention to embodied energy and operational impact. Mass timber construction provides an avenue for delivering the sustainable buildings of the future.

Prefabricated mass timber construction is the much-needed disruptor that has the necessary potential to engage the problem-solving capacity of the entire industry and transform the built environment. Canada’s forest management practices are recognized among the best globally, with more third-party certified lands than any other country. Canada has the natural resources and intellectual capital needed to be a world leader in green construction technology and sustainable development if the construction industry can be transformed and unlock the potential of mass timber construction.

Element5 was privileged to contribute to “Capturing Carbon,” a powerful documentary produced by the Forest Products Association of Canada. It tells the story of how sustainable forestry will help address the most pressing concern of our generation and help shape the greener future we deserve. It covers the forest floor in BC, where foresters are fighting the effects of climate change, to the front line fight in our cities where building tall with wood can create more climate-conscious communities, sustainable Canadian forestry can put our country on the path toward meeting our net-zero emissions targets.

Watch the documentary here:

Sarah Hicks is a Marketing and Communications Coordinator at Element5 based in Toronto, Ontario. Previously, Sarah was a Spokesperson at the Canadian Wood Council. With more than 15 years in the industry, Sarah brings excellent insight into the growing role of mass timber in Canada.

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