Can carbon-neutral ‘Woodcubes’ make steel unecessary?

As EarthTechling has reported in the past, the construction industry is fast regaining its appreciation for wood as a building material. With a hefty carbon footprint, steel has fallen out of favor for large building projects, and many designers are replacing it with wood with great results.

Woodcube is a 5-story carbon-neutral apartment block constructed almost entirely from wood by German architectural firm Architekturagentur. With the exception of some fixtures, and parts of the foundations and elevator shaft, the wooden apartment building was built without glue or chemical treatment of any kind. The result is a high-performance building that’s easier to recycle.

Image via NordNordWest

Woodcube encases a total of 16,000 sq ft, and contains eight residential units, with dimensions of between 968 to 2,045 sq ft. Everything in the building, from beams to diving walls was built out of wood held together with wooden dowels. This gives the structure incredibly thick walls that offer excellent natural insulation without the need for toxic materials.

Even the building’s elevator, which is one of the few elements not made of wood, has energy-efficient technology. A brake energy recovery system cuts the elevator’s energy consumption by an estimated 60 percent. Solar panels produce all the electricity needed for the building’s systems, and an efficient ventilation system based on a heat exchanger can be controlled by the building manager via iPad.

The Woodcube is on display at IBA Hamburg until November, as part of the festival’s Smart Material Houses exhibit.

* Beth Buczynski, EarthTechling