Woodchip walls carve a more sustainable ‘root’ for Aussie home construction

Paul Eyers
By Paul Eyers
3 Min Read

Aussie home builders are branching into a century-old method of European building construction as a way to make homes more sustainable. 

Popular in the Netherlands and throughout Europe, infusing wall slabs with natural materials to boost insulation has been a building method for over 100 years. 

Now, woodchips are being used here in Australia to make prefabricated eco-friendly wall panels for Aussie new builds in a boost to home sustainability and energy efficiency. 

The prefabricated walls are constructed using a material known as arbolite, a type of woodcrete made from 90 per cent organic materials: 72 per cent woodchips, 10 per cent portland cement, 15 per cent clean water and less than 3 per cent food-grade additives. 

This material concoction allows the walls to become carbon-positive, drastically reducing the embodied carbon on new builds that typically have siding made from concrete, which is responsible for more carbon emissions than any other construction material. 

A close-up of a arbolite wall containing woodchips – source: Paul Eyers

Woodchip Wall Specs

  • Improves indoor air quality
  • Self-regulation of humidity
  • Prevents mould, fungi and algae growth
  • Improved thermal comforts 
  • Faster build times
  • Improved sound insulation
  • Carbon positive 
  • non-combustible durability
  • 100-year design life
  • 2 x faster build times 

Sustainability isn’t the only benefit of an organic prefabricated walling system, with decreased costs, increased acoustic insulation, improved fire resistance and a vast increase in a building’s energy efficiency, helping to slash energy bills. 

But Alex Pisarev, CEO of Arbolite manufacturer and installer TecArbo, says the eco-friendly tech’s ability to slash construction times is the most significant benefit to builders as they struggle to keep pace with the nation’s target of building 1.2 million new homes by 2030. 

“It significantly speeds up the construction process as the wall panels are made entirely offsite,” he told Build-it. 

“It only takes a day or two to put them together once delivered so that we can put up the building envelope for the whole house in a couple of days.” 

Aussie home builders are branching into a century-old method of European building construction as a way to make homes more sustainable. 

Using traditional construction methods, 300m²+ of exterior walling would take almost a year to complete. However, using organic woodcrete, this would be reduced to just 4-5 months. 

Meanwhile, the entry costs are around $100 cheaper per square meter compared to traditional prefabricated walling. 

The walls come pre-plastered from the factory with a paint-ready internal and external finish. 

Share This Article
Paul Eyers has worked as a journalist for a range of media publishers including News Corp and Network Ten. He has also worked outside of Australia, including time spent with ABS-CBN in the Philippines. Stepping away from the media, Paul spent five years sharpening his tools in construction - building his skill set and expertise within the trade industry. His diverse experiences and unique journey have equipped him with an insider view of Australia’s construction game to dig deep into the big stories.