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InnoRenew CoE fostering the construction of taller timber buildings

The InnoRenew CoE successfully kicked off a new COST Action — “Holistic design of taller timber buildings” (HELEN) — that will be active for four years. During this time, international experts will develop new methodologies for taller multi-story timber buildings from a collaborative and interdisciplinary perspective, which is crucial to address climate goals.

The global construction sector is responsible for one-third of all carbon dioxide emissions as well as forty percent of the world’s energy use and waste production. Therefore, a shift to sustainable and renewable construction techniques is crucial. Engineered timber, the champion of sustainable construction materials, has evolved to a stage that not only enables the construction of family housing but also taller buildings commonly built from concrete or steel. Unfortunately, designing taller timber buildings is more demanding than their concrete and steel counterparts. This is why the design of taller timber buildings should be performed with intensive collaboration among the design team members — architects and structural, fire and acoustic engineers. This is the goal of COST Action HELEN.

“It is crucial that from the beginning stage of constructing taller multi-story timber buildings we have a collaborative and interdisciplinary approach,” said Dr. Iztok Šušteršič, leader of COST Action HELEN and research group leader for sustainable construction at InnoRenew CoE.

“Let me mention just the example of acoustic insulation principles currently used in timber buildings that are completely contrary to the design demands originating from wind or earthquake loading,” Dr. Šušteršič added. “This is just one case; unfortunately, the list of design collisions is very long.”

More than 80 experts from more than 30 countries will create guidelines for the safe construction of taller timber buildings, which will also make a positive impact on human health and well-being. The guidelines will be based on the principle of interdisciplinary work and collaboration between different stakeholders within COST Action HELEN.

COST Actions are intergovernmental programs that promote cooperation between research organizations from different European countries in science and technology.

Twice a year, proposals for new COST Actions are collected through an open call, and in May 2021, the board approved 40 new Actions, including COST Action CA20139 – Holistic design of taller timber buildings (HELEN), led by InnoRenew CoE.