Log houses are a healthy and incredibly sustainable choice. A modern log house fits right in the cityscape.
One cannot help but stroke the smooth walls in a log house.
“The walls call to you because wood is a warm and pleasant-to-touch material,” explain Jyrki Lepistö and Olavi Kujanen, Kontio Finland’s experts in house sales.
It is easy to agree with these men with 30 years of experience in the business, especially since we are under the roof of Kontio’s stylish log house Laaksolahti, located in the Helsinki region. The atmosphere inside the house is peaceful and harmonious. Despite the height of the ceiling, our voices don’t echo at all. The modern and bright log house doesn’t look out place in the company of the nearby houses.
“It has been scientifically proven that log houses promote people’s well-being. Wood, and especially Finnish pine which Kontio uses, provides clean and healthy indoor air, prevents harmful bacteria from growing within the house, and improves the quality of sleep.”
No wonder log building has become increasingly popular in recent years. In regard to detached houses, the popularity and market share of log as a material have increased, and log architecture is going through a transformation. Furthermore, log construction is no longer uncommon in cities. These days every fourth Finnish house is built from logs, whereas a decade ago barely one in ten new houses was made from logs.
Log house is a carbon sink
But wood isn’t simply a traditional and healthy building material. To top it all, wood has a significant role in sustainability, global warming and carbon footprints.
“You are promoting sustainability when you buy a log house. First of all, wood is a 100 per cent renewable material. Finland has great forest resources because our use of wood is far lower than the annual growth. Secondly, log houses stand the test of time and age beautifully. Hardly any energy is required to repair or maintain a log house,” say Lepistö and Kujanen.
When a log house comes to the end of its lifespan, the logs can be reused for other building purposes or burned for energy.
Log houses are such a winning choice for the environment also because timber absorbs energy from the atmosphere in warm weather and releases it in colder weather. In summer, the house provides an escape from the heat because the material keeps indoor air refreshing and cool. This reduces heating and cooling costs remarkably.
However, the most important environmental feature of wood is that trees store carbon dioxide from the atmosphere as they grow. Therefore, trees are brilliant carbon sinks: they bind carbon for decades or even centuries before decaying and releasing it back into the atmosphere.
For their entire lifespan, the walls of a log house store carbon and keep it out of the atmosphere, even for hundreds of years.
“The walls store more atmospheric carbon dioxide than was released into the atmosphere during the construction of the building. For instance, around 25 tonnes of carbon dioxide are bound in the outside walls of a Kontio detached house of 180 square metres in area. Not only that, but the long-lasting nature of log houses means that it will be a long time before that carbon is released.
Kontio’s factory is located in northern Finland and surrounded by pure nature. This is where Kontio manufactures all of its wood products and builds finished houses from scratch. The timber comes from the surrounding woods, and the factory utilises only premium, 100 per cent Finnish wood.
The entire production chain of the factory is ecologically sustainable. Compared to the amount of energy consumed in transforming wood from standing trees into log houses, over 1.5 times as much energy is generated in the overall process. The felled logs are transported to the sawmill, sawn, dried and further processed.
This results in various kinds of logging waste, such as cutter shavings and sawdust, which are collected for use as bioenergy. The factory produces zero residual waste.
Kontio uses only about half of the energy produced from side streams for heating and generating electricity.
Kontio has over 200 employees with abundance in expertise in log construction or, like Kontio itself puts it, WoodHow. The fruit of Kontio’s expertise and product development is the modern non-settling log – Kontio SmartLog™. Kontio SmartLog™ logs are made from close-grained pine and can easily be combined with other building materials, including glass, stone, metal and concrete.
Lepistö and Kujanen are very excited about the new product and believe it will also inspire designers.
“The new structure optimises all the wonderful features of log material. Designing contemporary log houses that fit right in the cityscape has never been easier. People no longer have to worry about their log house settling sooner or later,” Kujanen assures.