Finland strongly supports reducing its climate footprint originating for the built environment. But do the citizens support the ideas of renovating or building with wood?


Finland strongly supports reducing its climate footprint originating from the built environment as part of the national carbon neutrality goal by 2035. This is show in e.g. the increasing wood use in construction and favoring building renovation to alleviate emissions from the use of virgin construction materials. A newly published study addressed the open question if citizens also support these decarbonization pathways.

By using national-level data from a randomly sampled citizen survey in Finland (n = 1448), researchers modelled citizen preferences to the two decarbonization pathways. The results suggest that a preference to renovate rather than to build anew is shown by respondents of the female gender; over 55 years of age; with a lower household equivalent income; and possessing housing property investment. Wood material is positively favored by respondents with higher age; a lower household equivalent income; living in smaller population centers in the countryside; and owning forestland. Interestingly, the effect of climate agency was negative in both models.

This can be interpreted in the wood material case as reflecting conflicting views of negative environmental effects from forest harvesting to produce renewable building materials. In the renovation model case, Ruokamo et al. argue that the climatic impact of renovations remain weakly understood by citizens in Finland, given that the media and national regulations emphasize operational emissions.

Reference

Ruokamo, E., Franzini, F., Lähtinen, K., & Toppinen, A. (2024). To renovate or build with wood? Results from Finnish citizen survey data. Construction Management and Economics, 1–16. https://doi.org/10.1080/01446193.2024.2358063