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Global Building systems News The most climate-smart CLT on the market

The most climate-smart CLT on the market

Kampanjbilder från kampanjen Skogslandslaget. Mathilda Clausen Wingårdh medlem i Södra

Did you know that Södra’s cross-laminated timber (CLT) has the lowest GHG emissions on the market? The Swedish Environmental Research Institute (IVL) compiled an EPD showing that the GHG emissions from our CLT are only 34 kg CO₂ e/m³. That is a reduction of up to 80% compared with a traditional frame in concrete. To create an understanding of how our CLT can have such a low CO₂e factor, we will describe the entire product journey – from family forestry to the finished product.

Södra was founded in 1938 as a cooperative and has been promoting family forestry ever since. Forestry and processing forest raw materials have been the heart of Södra’s operations since the start. Södra now has a value chain comprising paper pulp production, dissolving pulp, wood products, biofuels, tall oil, electricity, and district heating. Because these products are developed in an industrial symbiosis, we can make use of the whole tree.

Sustainable forestry for generations

The growing stock in Sweden, especially in forests owned by members of Södra, has increased steadily over the past hundred years, largely due to better knowledge of forest management, and cultivated seedlings that have helped to improve forest growth.

Today’s forests are the result of management by previous generations. Södra is a member-owned cooperative with more than 50,000 members and the forest ownership is usually generational, with active management by up to 8–9 previous generations. That enables a long-term and responsible approach.

Södra conducts responsible forest management and uses methods that protect forest biodiversity and ecosystem services. We use the resources that we have but do not overuse them. Forest management combines production and economic aspects with conservation, cultural and social considerations. Voluntary set-asides and nature-conservation measures strengthen biodiversity. By incorporating environmental considerations into all forestry operations, we are also helping to strengthen biodiversity in the managed landscape.

The average size of a forest estate owned by a member of Södra is just over 50 hectares (equal to 100 football fields), with an average harvest area of 2.3 hectares annually. Södra has more than 50,000 members who have various objectives for their estates and a desire to manage their forests in different ways. The fact that Södra is owned by a large number of small-scale family forest owners contributes to more sustainable and diversified forestry. That is because small-scale forest owners usually have a longer-term approach to forest management and are more inclined to account for environmental and social aspects. They are also more likely to use sustainable methods for managing their forests, which can lead to more variation and greater biodiversity.

Compared with large-scale forestry, small-scale forestry can also have a more local focus, which can help to strengthen local communities and create rural jobs. Moreover, small-scale forestry can have a more flexible and adaptable approach to forest management, which can be advantageous in a changing environment.


Södra’s CLT venture and the value of the combined facility at Värö

In order to be involved and shape the future of timber-based solutions for the commercial and residential construction industry, Södra decided to invest in CLT production at Väröbacka, which is a strategic location because of its proximity to several Nordic growth regions, as well as in logistics to international markets via the port at Varberg or the railway tracks into the combined facility. The facility is co-located with Södra’s sawmill and pulp mill, providing easy access to raw materials, green energy, and existing infrastructure.

The pulp mill in the combined plant at Väröbacka is one of the largest in the world and produces 760,000 tonnes of pulp, which also provides 1.6 TWh of energy and fuel. Sweden’s largest sawmill, with a sawn wood production capacity of 600,000 m³, is also located here. That also provides 25,000 tonnes of pellets. The CLT production capacity is about 80–100,000 m³. We aim to maximise value by using all parts of a tree.

Our catchment area for raw material to the sawmill at Väröbacka is local and has a 10-km radius. By using the green energy that we produce, our CLT production is completely fossil-free.

To summarise, Södra’s value chain from family forestry to finished product, and the strategic mindset, form the core of being able to deliver the most climate-smart CLT on the market.

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Drönarbild över Värökombinatet med sågverk, KL-träfabrik och massabruk
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