Copenhagen, 12. oktober.2022
The other day, I was out for a walk in the woods.
In Denmark, autumn is the most colorful season.
Here the trees lose their leaves which have served them as small babbling solar panels all summer.
I love all the colors and the sound of the rustling leaves at this time of year.
It wasn’t until this year that I found nature’s logic in all the rain – in fall.
I’ve asked myself; if it wasn’t just a waste of water, now that the trees of the forest have finished growing for the year?
Now I have realized that it is fungi that grow of all the rain in fall. And that they connect the roots of trees in a large network.
In this way mushrooms serve as large water reservoirs for the trees, so the trees have plenty of water in early spring.
The fungi also help the trees communicate important information to the each other – regarding, pests, forest fires and drought and more…
Forests also produce a third of all the oxygen we breathe, when they grow. Oxygen, for sure being, the most precious thing we have.
In the same process they are responsible for sequestering a third of all carbon dioxide.
When I went for that walk in the woods, I was reminded of how deeply nature is connected – and I felt a part of this connectedness.
Trees have always had plenty of gifts to share with us.
In many – of our ways of thinking, we maintain the illusion that we are separated from nature.
The truth is that we are as connected to the trees of the forest as the trees are to the fungi.
Nature is at big network of interconnecting and we are part of it.
But how do we give the forests the right attention?
How do we get them to thrive and grow?
First, we must leave the virgin forests alone.
Next, we need to find new ways to support sustainable forest management.
Now you are probably asking – Well, this lecture wasn’t it about sustainable construction and education.
How can sustainable forest management be supported through cutting down trees for construction?
Well, a group of researchers and apprentices found a way.
And today I have come to tell you about it.
As an example, on have research and education can go hand in hand, to find solution on environmental and climate problems in a local context.
But with a rather big potential for global level changes.
The story started with a bunch of carpenter apprentices.
It was in Copenhagen, which is the capital of Denmark, 2 years ago the remarkable event happened. A group of carpenter apprentices stopped up and gathered around a letter to their vocational school.
“We want to learn what it takes to be able to take responsibility for the climate – in our profession. We want to learn how to build sustainably”
Within just the first 24 hours, they gathered over 80 signatures from apprentices and support from 5 large construction companies.
This was the starting point for the – Movement – Apprentices for Sustainability, which has now made it possible for carpentry apprentices to learn how to build houses with incredibly good environmental and climate characteristics.
It became possible through a multi-stakeholder project that was curious about how the recommendations of a UNESCO study, – could seriously be put into practice.
Could the qualities of the 17 SDGs be transformed into useful action skills, that enabled apprentices to learn how to build and act sustainably within their profession.
The answer is yes
Let us look a bit into the problems addressed.
Globally, the construction industry accounts for about 40% of all energy-related climate impact. Concrete and steel account for 10% alone.
Likewise, toxic’s and harmful substances have been in many building-materials for several decades.
In the project apprentices, trainers, technicians and scientists have joined forces to develop a carpentry training programme that addresses all these problems.
Apprentices can learn to build with materials that in the production and the transport of them, reduce climate impact by more than 100%.
Yes, you did hear more than 100%.
This is possible because when we build with wood, and other biogenic building materials from sustainable forestry, we support both local sustainable forestry, while we can use our buildings as CO2 storage.
Contrary, the last century, we emit about 1 ton of CO2, when we build a cubic meter of housing.
The project has construction methods that mostly uses wood. This construction method doesn’t just save us the carbon-dioxide that we commonly would have used.
But the wood also stores up to 1 ton of CO2 per cubic meter.
At the same time, no toxic substances have been used.
And the houses are- what we call breathable. In other words, the mass of the house regulates humidity, and thereby creates a healthy indoor climate.
The training program have different level of possible pacification from the apprentices. More than 100 have now specialist skills – more than a 1000 have basic know have and more than 30 trainers from most regions of Denmark have started their training to build and act sustainable with in their profession.
It is important to note that like all methods and solutions they, are linked to the opportunities, traditions and resources of a specific region.
This method links to regions with sustainable forestry.
If I should talk about 3 main lessons learned in the project, it would start with something we call:
Empowerment for Sustainability
In this picture we see the apprentices David and Victor.
After learning to build with these methods, they took their knowledge into the business of their master carpenter.
Victor found that even though he could, his master didn’t want to let him apply his knowledge. But he has still learned how to make a difference. Now he travels around the world building wooden sculptures of trolls.
David found that his master-carpenter accepted his knowledge and was allowed to put them to use. David is now fully trained and has his own company. The master carpenter still builds environmentally friendly.
Supporting young people in developing the capacity to take actual sustainable actions, can be a very powerful tool in the sustainable transition.
Our experiences show us the value of moving beyond thinking, that we have to convince them of the sustainable agenda.
We experience that the interest grows with the development of empowerment for sustainability.
This give young people the opportunity to feel competent, courageous and energetic in one of the life situations they are in, which means a lot to them.
To learn, to be able to live a meaningful life that is in harmony with the world’s resources are Empowerment for sustainability.
Another important experience is that Apprentices often is ambassadors for the sustainable agenda. This gives vocational education and training a whole other potential
In Denmark, we are fortunate that we have established 4-year craftsman training courses, which take place in an interaction between peer training in construction companies and school stays in a 2/1 ratio.
Normally the changes that happens within the building sector, is driven by the industry and legislation.
Here in Denmark, we have the opportunity to support apprentices and new skilled workers – in influencing the building sector, with practical know-have, on have to build and act sustainable.
David and Victor are examples for this quality.
But Apprentices for Sustainability did not just have an impact on the construction industry throw education.
It also served as a pioneering example, which through newsletters and ongoing dialog with the Ministry of Education and UNECO has influenced the political agenda.
Without knowing the precise interconnections of events.
Just 14 days after the apprentice – Laura presented our results in parliament, the government adopted a budget supporting the creation of three climate vocational schools.
This is why we say that; Apprentices are ambassadors for the sustainable transition.
A third experience that stands out in the project can be quite difficult to put words on.
That is because it has to do with a knowledge that exists beyond our languish, thowe it is a quit common thing.
It is the skills that lives in the hand/mind relation within the craftsmanship’s. It is called tacit knowledge.
Architects and engineers each cover their own part of the development of sustainable construction methods – and we have a habit of thinking that all development is developed in these two fields, but that’s just not true.
The crafts play an important part in the development of sustainable construction methods. We’re just not used to think about this – because it’s tacit knowledge.
In this picture we see Anders and Ejner who were the first apprentices in the program to build an outer wall construction with a bathroom wall inside.
In the work of documenting the durability of Anders and Ejners solution, we realist have essential the very practical approach was. A very coherent form of knowledge that provided a comprehensive building guide, was created.
The involved researchers and specialists – reported, that research often only deals with single-track documentation which ends I rapports that no craftsmen ever reads.
So, when we are looking for new solutions on our climate problems, we must remember the important tacit knowledge of the hands. After all, it is craftsmen who ultimately create everything in our surroundings.
Craftsmanship is a form of knowledge in itself.
Right now, based on their experiences, Apprentices for Sustainability are in the process of presenting their take on Denmark’s most sustainable youth housing.
Next year, a 1:1 prototype will be exhibited, when UNESCO appoints Copenhagen as world’s architecture capital, year 2023. It reduces the climate impact of the production an transport of the materials by 107% with out it becoming les fun to live in.
This is a 1:10 model, they build.
The use of trees has always been a part of Human culture.
We have lived in – and under them, for more than a million year.
We have eaten their fruits and built- and created heat – from their wood.
Our connection with the trees is still here.
And building houses from wood from sustainable forestry is one of many solutions we can use in the sustainable transition.
We find it extra good, because it has the tribble effects of storing CO2 in our buildings, instead ofemitting it, and supporting sustainable forests to grow.
Technical, Vocational education and training are an important part of a systematic approach for the sustainable empowerment of young people.
Finally, I have promised The Apprentices of Sustainability to remind us all off Einstein’s words:
We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.”
And to the world leaders, they say: – take one thing with you:
“We build future, with nature”
For yderligere information, kontakt:
David Rangan, projektleder Videnscenter for Håndværk – Design og Arkitektur & bestyrelsesmedlem Forum for Uddannelse for Bæredygtig Udvikling / RCE-Denmark