Wooden schools – the gateway to a climate-aware and humane city

As called for by the government, the use of wood is now being vigorously promoted in public construction. Schools, daycare centres, and other educational facilities in particular have been built from wood in recent years. The 2021 Wood Award competition has also seen the same trend: four of the nine finalists were wooden schools and daycare centres.

The Finnish Ministry of the Environment’s goal is for 65% of educational facilities to be built from wood by 2025.

The first Wood magazine of the year will also make wooden schools and daycare centres its main theme. Published this time only digitally on Puuinfo’s website, the articles will cover successful school and daycare centre projects from all over Finland. We will also include discussions about the environmental and health impacts of wooden buildings. With a publication date set for the end of May, the next Wood magazine will return to its traditional paper-based format.

As a building material derived from trees, wood is renewable and can store carbon for up to hundreds of years in wooden buildings. For example, our online magazine covers a study commissioned by the Hiilijemma project that determined how wood construction can quickly cut CO2 emissions.

Wooden schools and daycare centres are often built for their effect on the health and well-being of their users. Many old facilities with indoor air problems have been replaced with new wooden ones. New research data on noise levels in wooden school buildings, fluctuations in humidity, and student stress levels were also collected at the end of 2021. Researchers from the University of Oulu present their data in an article included in this issue of Wood magazine.

Wood is also an aesthetically and acoustically pleasant material. Acoustics are particularly important in schools and daycare centres since they can be very noisy. Our magazine includes insights from highly experienced acoustic design professionals about the new opportunities in this field for wooden schools.

Municipalities and cities have a key role to play in turning national and regional goals into real-life carbon neutrality. For many municipalities, building a new wooden school or daycare centre may be the first time they dip their toes in these waters. In the countryside, wood construction is traditionally more common. If wood construction is to increase its share of the industry in cities as well, more expertise, familiarity, and collaboration are needed.

Merely taking that first step develops the skills and expertise required, and helps gain experience. Hopefully this will give municipalities the momentum they need to build other environmentally friendly buildings from wood.

For its part, Puuinfo continues to collaborate with a range of groups to help build new, healthy, and safe schools around the country. Read more about our projects in the online magazine. Happy reading and warm wishes for a lovely spring!

Text: Anne Soininen | Photograph: Asko Leinonen
Read the article in Finnish: Puukoulu – portti ilmastoviisaaseen ja inhimilliseen kaupunkiin