European Wilderness Society

Wood – Austrian Miracle Worker

Wood reuse in Salzburg, Austria has reached an impressive level, with three-quarters of harvested trees being transformed into wood products or used as building materials. The construction industry’s growing interest in sustainable resources is evident as more and more buildings now “grow” from wood and showcase impressive heights in some projects.

The advantages of using wood as a building material are numerous, including short transportation distances, CO2 storage, high regional added value, and rapid construction progress. Throughout the state, construction sites and completed buildings reflect the appreciation for the abundant “Salzburg resource.”

Rightly so, because wood is a versatile material. Moreover, we have it right here in the region; we should make even greater use of it.

Josef Schwaiger
State Councillor

Schwaiger: “Wood has become normal”

Wooden construction has become a norm in various sectors like schools, office buildings, and residential complexes. Schwaiger asserts that using domestic resources has become commonplace and serves as an environmentally-friendly option since the building material is locally sourced and can be easily recycled at the end of its life. “Furthermore, from our own experience, for example, from our agricultural schools, we know how beneficial the special atmosphere of wooden buildings is for people and how highly it is valued by everyone who learns, works, or lives in them,” adds the State Councillor.

During the construction of the Hallwang primary school – seen in the archive photo is State Councillor Josef Schwaiger visiting a class at the TrinkWasser!Schule – the entire upper floor was built with wood

Public buildings leading the way

The public sector has led the way in adopting wooden construction methods, with numerous municipalities and almost all new schools opting for renewable, locally-sourced resources. Even the new district administration building for Salzburg Umgebung was built with around 1,000 cubic meters of wood. Furthermore, the trend of incorporating wood in residential construction is becoming increasingly evident in multi-story buildings across all districts, offering warm and comfortable living spaces.

Three-quarters of the trees harvested in Salzburg are later processed into wood products or used as building materials

Residential construction follows suit

Wood has been a fixed element in house construction for quite some time and now this trend is becoming increasingly evident again. For example, the “Ronald McDonald Children’s House” on the grounds of the University Hospital Salzburg, which offers a temporary home for parents of seriously ill children, is a peaceful haven.

Rightly so, families feel comfortable in this warm, pleasant atmosphere. This building material cannot be replaced; wood is simply wood.

Andrea Hofer
House manager

Seven stories in a short time

A noteworthy example of wood’s potential is the construction of a seven-story boarding school in Kuchl, with six of its stories made of wood. Using modular construction techniques with prefabricated rooms assembled by crane facilitated its swift completion in just eight months. The enthusiasm among students to secure a place in the new boarding school highlights the appeal of wooden structures.

Agricultural schools also opt for wood

Even agricultural schools have embraced wood as their primary building material since 2010. The upcoming modernization of Winklhof in Oberalm includes stables, a riding hall, and workshops, all constructed from renewable, locally-sourced resources. This not only reduces construction time but also contributes to the regional economy while fostering an interest in sustainable building practices among the youth.

Wood’s significance in construction is growing, contributing to a greener and more sustainable future for the Salzburg region!

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