A consumer-driven bioeconomy in housing? Combining consumption style with students' perceptions of the use of wood in multi-storey buildings

Ambio. 2020 Dec;49(12):1943-1957. doi: 10.1007/s13280-020-01397-7. Epub 2020 Oct 9.


Consumer acceptance of new bio-based products plays a key role in the envisioned transition towards a forest-based bioeconomy. Multi-storey wooden buildings (MSWB) exemplify a modern, bio-based business opportunity for enacting low-carbon urban housing. However, there is limited knowledge about the differing perceptions consumers hold regarding wood as an urban building material. To fill this gap, this study explores Finnish students' perceptions of MSWB relative to their familiarity with wooden residential buildings, and then connects these perceptions to 'consumption styles.' Data were collected in the Helsinki metropolitan area via an online questionnaire (n = 531). The results indicate that the aesthetic appearance of MSWB are appreciated most by frugal and responsible consumers, whereas the comfort, environmental friendliness, and longevity of MSWB are important to consumers who identify themselves as 'thoughtful spenders.' The study suggests that both environmental and hedonic young consumers already familiar with the use of wood in housing contribute to a successful bioeconomy in the urban context.

Keywords: Consumer perception; Consumption styles; Sustainable bioeconomy; Urban housing; Wood; Young consumers.

MeSH terms

  • Forests
  • Housing*
  • Humans
  • Students
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Wood*