Building back better – The Property Chronicle
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Building back better

Head Of Research

Why timber buildings may be key in limiting climate change.

The latest Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Report makes for grim reading. It finds that climate change is here, it is accelerating and left unchecked the implications for humanity will be serious. In the fight to curtail the worst impacts of rising temperatures, real estate has a critical role to play given its significant contribution towards greenhouse gas emissions. 

The operation of buildings is important, but it is real estate construction and demolition which is most damaging from an environmental perspective. Indeed, if concrete were a country it would account for 8% of annual global emissions, making it the world’s third largest carbon emitter after China and the USA according to Chatham House think tank. 

With population growth, demographic change, building redundancy and urbanisation driving demand for new sustainable and efficient buildings, it is unrealistic to stop new construction entirely. A more pragmatic approach is needed which enables construction and reduces the impact of end-of-life demolition in a way which also helps the planet. One potential solution which could achieve this is the use of timber buildings.

Carbon negative potential

On the face of it, cutting down trees to help alleviate climate change may seem counter-intuitive, but the logic is sound. Trees absorb carbon as they grow and this is permanently captured when timber is used to construct new buildings. Sourcing trees from sustainably managed woodland means that new fast-growing trees are cultivated to replace those chopped down, thereby reducing carbon from the atmosphere even further. Not only does this negate the need to use polluting concrete, but it also sucks out additional carbon from the atmosphere; done correctly it is carbon negative. 

Head Of Research

About Tom Duncan

Tom Duncan

As Head of Research, Tom Duncan is responsible for setting the research strategy for Cromwell’s international platform, producing investment and strategy research to advise the business and its investors on market and sector opportunities and risks. He is also responsible for creating thematic-based investment strategies, and using his experience in economic and property market analysis to support the investment decision-making process. Tom joined Cromwell in 2021 from Mayfair Capital, where he spent four years and was latterly Director of Strategy and Innovation, responsible for research across Europe and the UK. Prior to this he spent two years at JLL in the UK as an Associate Director in their Corporate Research team. He also has experience working in Australia in a research role and in property economics with Colliers International and Hill PDA respectively. Tom holds Masters degrees in Property Development from the UTS Sydney and Town and Country Planning from the University of Sheffield, as well as a BA in Human Geography from Nottingham Trent University.

Articles by Tom Duncan

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