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EIT Climate-KIC and Built by Nature, announce an initiative to support a one-million-square meter prototype demonstration building project in Milano Innovation District (MIND). The project will act as a collaboration centre for industry and policymakers while creating an important source of knowledge and innovation, writes the European Institute of Innovation and Technology in a press release.

Built by Nature, a network and grant-making organisation with a mission to accelerate the timber building transformation in Europe, has announced a EUR 250 000 Accelerator Fund grant to support research into perception barriers to mass timber adoption in Italy. The initiative, coordinated by EIT Climate-KIC, will establish a physical and digital prototype building to drive understanding and adoption of mass timber, while maximising the amount of timber used in construction of the one-million-square metre Milano Innovation District (MIND) complex.

Researching carbon-neutral buildings’ markets

EIT Climate-KIC will coordinate collective learning as part of the research initiative and the Accelerator Fund grant will connect to EIT Climate-KIC’s Deep Demonstrations of Healthy Clean Cities EU CINCO, funded by the Laudes Foundation. The aim of the CINCO project is to learn how can cities shape the markets for carbon-neutral buildings through two experimentations for bio-based and circular construction in Milan and Madrid.

Both initiatives set the stage for collaboration with local stakeholders, the city, developers, and designers by supporting the creation of skills, motivation, and leadership to collaboratively explore how to activate levers for timber transformation of buildings. Built by Nature and EIT Climate-KIC’s partner networks will share the outputs of the project.

Thomas Osdoba, NetZeroCities Programme Director, EIT Climate-KIC: “Thanks to the vision and commitment of Built by Nature and Laudes Foundation, we can help cities tackle deep-seated, seemingly intractable challenges. Our ability to collaborate with the private sector, research experts, and the City of Milan means we can develop insights and actionable knowledge useful to all cities about circular building materials and how to reduce carbon emissions in the built environment. Further, we can connect this work to all cities across Europe through our leadership of NetZeroCities.”

Grants for timber building solutions

Partners in the project include multinational property and construction company Lendlease (which provides co-funding of EUR 528 000), Waugh Thistleton Architects (who are designing the prototypes), Fondazione Politecnico di Milano (who is conducting a review of scientific literature on mass timber sustainability implications in Italy), as well as University College of London, Arup and Stora Enso.

Built by Nature’s Accelerator Fund provides grants of between EUR 50 000-EUR 250 000 to teams and solutions that scale up timber building and raise the bar on the positive climate impact of using timber from sustainably sourced forests. Since launching in October 2021, the Accelerator Fund has already supported leading-edge work by Holland Houtland in scaling biobased buildings through a new blended finance and valuation model; Waugh Thistleton Architects and its ‘New Model Building’ methodology for building residential developments using engineered timber, and the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalunya’s Valldaura Labs (IAAC) in convening frontrunners and exhibiting solutions ahead of Barcelona’s ‘European Forest City 2022.

Deepening knowledge and accelerating growth

James Drinkwater, Chair, Built by Nature Investment Committee: “This is an extremely exciting Accelerator Fund initiative on several levels, bringing together a local network in Italy to develop knowledge and innovation in a demonstration project setting, as part of a larger city scale project that has the potential to really unlock the timber building transformation locally. We are pleased to deepen key Built by Nature partnerships with EIT Climate-KIC and local research partners like Politecnico di Milano, and support city and industry frontrunners such as Milano and Lendlease.”

Built by Nature connects key actors across the built environment and forest communities to spark city-scale projects and amplify stories of groundbreaking timber projects and solutions. In close collaboration with its major partners and frontrunners, Built by Nature aims to change perceptions around timber construction and reshape the built environment system.

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