French government announce plans to make all new public buildings 50% timber

“France’s government has struck out against global warming and climate change with this bold new initiative that puts timber front and centre.”

The French government has announced a landmark new sustainability law that could inspire other world powers to follow suit. The measure, which will be implemented by 2022, mandates the use of “at least” 50% wood in all new public buildings. This puts timber, and its role as a sustainable material, front and centre in the fight against climate change.

Agence France-Presse reported that the country’s minister for cities and housing, Julien Denormandie, said “I impose on all the public establishments which depend on me and which make the development or the policy of land to build buildings with materials which are at least 50% of wood or bio-based materials.” Bio-based materials are those which are produced by living organisms, such as hemp or straw.

Speaking to French magazine Figaro, Denormandie added: “We made this commitment for the Olympic Games. There is no reason why what is possible for the Olympic Games should not be possible for the usual constructions.”

This move is part of a wider Sustainable City plan launched in 2009, and it ties in with President Macron’s pledge for the country to become carbon neutral by 2050. As part of these initiatives, the French government will invest £16.8 million into the creation of 100 urban farms in city suburbs – although it is not known, yet, whether the new law will apply to their construction.

This is just the most recent in a spate of actions from world powers that are aimed at attaining carbon neutrality and minimising the impact on the environment. Whether that’s Paris planting an “urban forest” the UK’s new Sustainable Outcomes Guide, or a plethora of pledges and manifestos. With the world watching, we can only hope that other governments take note of France’s decision to champion timber and decide to take part themselves.