How VolkerWessels is using wood at every stage for an emission-free 2030

As a renewable raw material, wood is the circular building material par excellence and crucial for an emission-free future. Whereas the production of most building materials is energy-intensive and associated with high CO2 emissions, sustainably managed forest actually sequesters CO2. For the construction sector, and of course also for VolkerWessels, the use of sustainably certified wood, where possible from Dutch forests, is therefore one of the most effective ways of tackling the climate problem.

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VolkerWessels is aware of the importance of using sustainably certified wood and of the impact that we, as a leading builder, can have on the entire construction chain. We are therefore involved in promising initiatives in every phase of the timber construction process: this already starts with the future-proofing of Dutch forests and research into the possibilities of using more wood from Dutch forests in the construction industry in the long term. We also focus on the sustainable procurement of all the wood we use in our projects. Finally, we also play an important role by using more wood in our projects and building concepts. Sustainable use of wood is therefore an important part of our sustainability ambition: emission-free construction by 2030.

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Investing in healthy and future-proof forests

To make forests in the Netherlands future-proof, VolkerWessels entered into a partnership with FSC Netherlands and the Union of Forest Groups in 2019. This involves taking climate-adaptive measures in three forests to make the forest healthier, more resilient and future-proof, increase biodiversity and provide more CO2 storage. The measures in the second forest in the municipality of Rheden will be completed in June 2022. The third forest will follow in 2023.


From Forest to Construction: sustainable timber from Dutch forests

With various partners, including Wageningen University (WUR) and the Union of Forest Groups, VolkerWessels is participating in the 'From Forest to Construction' project. Together, the parties involved have the ambition to let sustainable wood from Dutch forests contribute to the construction task. The potential for this is present in the Netherlands, but the supply chain must first be prepared for this and supply and demand must be better matched.

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Sustainable wood procurement

VolkerWessels will have purchased a total of 41,845 m3 of sustainable wood by 2021. This is equivalent to 99% of total wood purchases, virtually achieving the objective of using only sustainably produced wood from sustainably managed forests. Of this, 61% was FSC certified and approximately 38% was mainly PEFC certified. With the Forest Calculation Tool from FSC Netherlands it can be calculated how many square meters of forest are protected when opting for FSC wood. For VolkerWessels, around 10% of the wood consists of tropical hardwood and 90% of northern wood, which brings us to over 6 million square meters of protected forest. That is equivalent to approximately 850 soccer fields.

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All-wood houses from our own factory

One project in which VolkerWessels uses certified wood is, for example, the construction of 60 homes on the Winterdijk in Gouda. VolkerWessels company De Groot Vroomshoop is doing this for housing corporation Mozaïek Wonen on the site of a former school building. The housing corporation was looking for a sustainable housing solution and the wood module construction concept that is circular, moveable and made entirely of wood fully meets this requirement. The wooden modules were produced under perfect conditions entirely at De Groot Vroomshoop's Factory of Wooden Buildings in Enschede. In the project 859 m3 CLT and 16 m3 Azobé are used. Because FSC wood is used, it can be calculated with the Forest Calculation Tool of FSC Netherlands that approximately 65,000 m2 of forest will be protected by the project.

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The next iconic project is already in the planning stages, indicating the increasing interest in timber construction. De Groot Vroomshoop and colleague VolkerWessels company Goossen Te Pas Bouw signed a contract with housing corporation Domijn for this purpose at the beginning of June. In the center of Enschede, they are working on the construction of 185 apartments and 17 live-work studios, consisting of solid wood modules. These too, just six kilometers away, will be manufactured in their own 'Factory of Wooden Buildings'.