The building of log houses in Norway is an art and a tradition. The actual building technique is called lafte in Norwegian. There has been great debate over the last few years about the value of the lafte tradition. There are people who believe the technique is no longer sustainable in today’s modern age. They would rather replace it with ‘current’ up-to-date standards, even though the technique has been in use in Scandinavia for many centuries.
New laws passed in March this year by the Direktoratet for byggkvalitet (Directorate for Building Quality) restrict the building of a laftehus to 150 sqm. According to the movement that wants the tradition completely stopped, a laftehus is not an airtight or environmentally friendly construction.
The ruling and ground swell against the lafte technique has no doubt angered those who use it. It’s also contrary to the evidence being collected that shows respiratory problems have increased in Norwegian houses that are airtight.
The use of natural building materials to create a healthier interior environment, has a very long history in Norway. New evidence indicates that a laftehus may actually be more environmentally friendly than a normal passive house.
A recent study by the Riksantikvaren (Directorate for Cultural Heritage) may just add the necessary muscle to the pro-argument for lifting restrictions on the lafte building technique. Greenhouse gas emissions were compared between a house built with lafte and a passive house. Material and energy usage were also measured over a 60-year period. While the energy usage of the laftehus was higher than the passive house, the carbon footprint was much lower and balanced the energy usage out over the long term.