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Building material preferences with a focus on wood in urban housing: durability and environmental impacts

Høibø, Olav, Hansen, Eric, Nybakk, Erlend
Canadian journal of forest research = 2015 v.45 no.11 pp. 1617-1627
attitudes and opinions, buildings, business enterprises, construction materials, consumer preferences, durability, environmental impact, issues and policy, market share, people, residential housing, society, urban areas, urban development, wood, Norway
As societies urbanize, a growing proportion of the global population and an increasing number of housing units will be needed in urban areas. High-rise buildings and environmentally friendly, renewable materials must play important roles in sustainable urban development. To achieve this, it is imperative that policy makers, planners, architects, and construction companies understand consumer preferences. We use data from urban dwellers in the Oslo region of Norway to develop an understanding of material preferences in relation to environmental attitudes and knowledge about wood. We emphasise wood compared with other building materials in various applications (structural, exterior, and interior) within urban apartment blocks. We use 503 responses from a web panel. Our findings show that Oslo area consumers tend to prefer materials other than wood in various applications in apartment blocks, especially structural applications. Still, some respondent prefer wood, including some applications in apartment blocks where wood is currently not commonly used. The best target for wood-based urban housing includes younger people who have strong environmental values. As environmental attitudes evolve in society and a greater proportion of consumers search out environmentally friendly product alternatives, the opportunities for wood to gain market share will most likely increase.