February 21, 2024
Gaia is the largest wooden building in Asia. It is located at Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore. It is built from a material called mass timber, which is made by gluing layers of wood together to increase their strength.
The timber for Gaia was sourced from sustainably managed forests. Replacing the trees used in its construction will offset 5,800 tonnes of CO2, which is equivalent to 17,000 return flights between Singapore and Hong Kong.
Gaia is a certified zero-energy building. This means it produces as much energy as it consumes. It is powered by solar panels on its rooftop and uses passive ventilation systems to keep its energy usage down. Gaia emits 2,500 fewer kg of CO2 per year than a typical building of the same size. It is one of 16 zero-energy buildings in Singapore, half of which are at NTU.
Timber buildings could make a big dent in our carbon reduction goals. 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions come from concrete production, whereas trees are a net absorber of carbon. Using wood in our buildings and bridges could save 31% of global CO2 emissions.
The EU is promoting this method of construction, too. Its New European Bauhaus initiative aims to build sustainability into people’s daily lives, in part by building with natural materials such as timber.
Gaia is a groundbreaking example of how timber buildings can be used to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability. The EU's New European Bauhaus initiative is a welcome move to promote this type of construction. I hope that we will see more timber buildings being built in the future.
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