Wood Life – Energy-efficient living spaces through the use of wooden interior elements

The overall aim of Wood Life was to increase the energy-efficiency of housing, through the greater use of wood-based materials. This was achieved firstly though a combination of spatial design and use of wood materials and wood surfaces that reduce energy costs for space heating and, secondly, by investigating whether improvements in energy efficiency can be achieved by taking into account the perceptions individuals have of wood. Wood Life brought together an interdisciplinary team of architects, wood technologists, surface scientists, experts in thermodynamics and building physics as well as psychologists. The project has brought new insights into how wood could be used to passively control the interior climate of a building though the use of its hygroscopic properties. The project has also shed new light on how we, as the occupants of buildings, perceive the thermal and haptic properties of wood, suggesting that we may be able to use this knowledge to alter our use of energy and have developed new sustainable coatings that retain wood’s natural ‘breathability’ whilst making it repellent to liquid water.


According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), globally the buildings sector is the biggest energy-consuming sector, accounting for over one-third of final energy consumption a well as a significant proportion of carbon dioxide emissions.1 In Finland, buildings represent around 40% of total energy consumption 2,3 with around half this, or about 60 TWh per annum, being accounted for by residential and free-time residential buildings. In 2010, space heating in residential buildings required 40 TWh, or nearly 70% of energy consumed in this sector. The potential impact in terms of lowering energy consumption in this sector is therefore very significant.


1. IEA (2013) Transition to Sustainable Buildings: Strategies & Opportunities to 2050 (available at: https://www.iea.org/publications/freepublications/)

2. Rakennetun ympäristön energiankäyttö ja kasvihuonepäästöt. Sitran selvityksiä 39. 2010

3. Statistics: Energy consumption in households. Statistics Finland [referred: 19.11.2012]. Access method: http://www.stat.fi/til/asen/index_en.html.

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