Study Shows Wood’s Positive Impact on Humans
People spend, on average, 90% of their lives indoors, according to researchers from the international research project, Wood2New, a project initiated in 2014 to study the impact of wood products used in homes. Because people spend so much time indoors, air quality and indoor temperature not only affect health, but can also affect quality of life. But exactly in what ways and how much had previously not been mapped out. In order to fill this gap in existing research Wood2New partnered with universities and wood-industry companies. The final report was presented at a seminar in the beginning of March at Linköping University in Sweden.
According to the study, wood has superior strength in proportion to its weight, is easy to work with, and widely accessible. It also promotes good conditions at the building site, is flexible, and provides designers with a great scope of freedom. Environmental impacts include binding and storing carbon dioxide and the ability to be recycled. Wood also evens out indoor humidity, for example when a home-owner uses the shower or cooks food, it contributes to increased indoor humidity. Wood absorbs this, and later—when it becomes drier—emits humidity.
”Apart from the purely technical properties, we have also measured the emotional aspects of using wood in health care institutions, for example, through using focus groups in different countries,” said Mark Hughs, professor at the Aalto University in Finland and project coordinator. “It’s interesting to note that wood is perceived in the same way regardless of culture, i.e. natural, warm and cozy. It has a calming effect, as well as good acoustic and air properties.”
The overall goal of the project was to contribute to creating competitive and sustainable wood based interior products and systems for modern wood constructions through: identifying opportunities and limitations for using wood interior elements; examining if, and how wood may affect human health; developing, designing and evaluating concepts for sustainability, value-adding, multifunctional wood based interior products and systems; and developing business models based on the acquired facts of how wood affects health. The project is part of the international program WoodWisdom-Net+ Research, which aims to strengthen the competitiveness and sustainability of Europe’s forest and wood industry by developing long-term cooperation between different players.
For more information, visit www.wood2new.org.