Fair trade house made of wood: Building in a carbon neutral and fair way

Compared to the conventional method of building, a house made of wood is already a winner in terms of climate protection, because the building material from the forest is renewable and climate neutral. In order to also respect the environment while actually constructing the house, various factors need to be considered. The fair trade concept for wooden houses developed by the Siepmann Holzbau company from Mülheim is an example of an approach that is unique in Germany, whereby all the partners involved commit to following climate-friendly, fair processes. The aim is to ensure a high-quality, ecologically favourable outcome and promote sustainable building practices.

In Germany, wood is currently used to build 16.2 per cent of residential buildings, but the rate is a mere 10.5 per cent in North Rhine-Westphalia. However, there is no dismissing the arguments in favour of building a home with this sustainable material – particularly in terms of climate neutrality. Wood absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere while it is growing and only releases this when it is burnt – so if wood is used as building material, the release of the CO2 is delayed until the wood is burnt after many years of use. If other building materials are used, on the other hand, CO2 emissions are incurred both in the production process and in the disposal of the materials. The Siepmann Holzbau company from Mülheim an der Ruhr is therefore hoping to boost the popularity of wooden houses and has developed an innovative concept which follows the principles of fair trade as well as those of climate protection. This concept aims to guarantee high quality and make the construction of wooden houses more attractive.

Engine for progress:

  • Wood is a climate neutral building material
  • A unique fair trade concept for wooden houses
  • Use of timber from ecologically sound sources
  • The shortest possible distances for transport and delivery

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Photo: Siepmann Holzbau

Siepmann Holzbau’s fair trade house concept includes using wood as the basic building material and specifies strict regulations for the timber supply chain and for the working conditions of the personnel involved. The builders are also intensively involved at the planning stage so the customer is guaranteed a transparent process.

Unique concept combines climate protection and fair trade

In addition to using timber from local forests, the company’s fair trade house concept also guarantees that the wood originates from forests that are managed on a sustainable basis. Furthermore, only materials such as untreated timber, environmentally-friendly insulation products and structural panels made of natural fibres are used for the construction. These can simply be returned to the materials cycle at the end of their useful life. The energy supplied to the houses will also come from climate neutral sources, and appropriate designs based on renewable energy are drawn up at the planning stage.

One of these climate neutral, fair trade houses – a bungalow based on a timber frame design – has been built in Dülmen in the Münsterland region. Every effort was made to ensure that natural, sustainable and reusable materials were used for the building’s construction and installations: the larch wood rhombus façade is untreated, the external walls were filled with cellulose fibre (a recycled product made from waste paper), part of the interior trim is made of wood, the interior walls are gypsum fibreboards containing cellulose, the wall surfaces were covered with clay, lime plaster and tadelakt made from shell limestone and soap, and the flooring consists of solid oak floorboards. In addition, the roof was prepared for the installation of solar panels. A heat pump uses the exhaust air from the building as a source of heat, thereby supplying the house with energy. According to the energy certificate, the primary energy consumption is 60.7 kilowatt-hours per square metre per year, which is 29.3 per cent below the requirement for new buildings.

‘Fair building assurance’ for social and climate-friendly standards

In order to ensure that the wooden houses which are constructed are all built in a climate-friendly and fair way, the partners involved in the projects commit themselves to a ‘fair building assurance’, which guarantees production processes that reduce CO2 emissions as well as a transparent supply chain and fair working conditions. In addition, high social and environmental standards must be met. Siepmann Holzbau are themselves setting an example by controlling and reducing the amount of raw materials and energy they consume as well as the waste they produce. They are achieving this by using efficient plant technology in their processes, specifying detailed plans and carrying out production precisely. Waste wood is also used to supply energy at the company. Furthermore, the wood construction company avoids unnecessary journeys for transport and delivery by concentrating its house-building activities within a radius of 100 kilometres at most. And working with local suppliers also cuts CO2 emissions since delivery journeys are shorter.


Photo: Siepmann Holzbau

“Reconciling climate protection and house construction doesn’t really present a problem. You just need the will to do it. So our motto is: fair for the environment, fair for the customer, fair for society. We want to build climate neutral houses and also ensure sustainable conditions of production in all the companies we work with.”

Uwe Siepmann, Managing Director of Siepmann Holzbau GmbH

Partners and sponsors

  • Siepmann Holzbau

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