Kimmo Tiilikainen, Minister of Agriculture and the Environment, who is also responsible for housing, thinks that in order to support climate targets, timber construction should be promoted throughout Europe. “This would be significant for both climate targets and the promotion of timber construction. As a renewable material, wood binds carbon, which has a positive effect on the carbon footprint of a building’s lifecycle.”
According to Minister of Economic Affairs Olli Rehn, the government is furthering use of wood products in construction as part of its strategic goal for bioeconomy and clean solutions. "It is now important to continue development of industrial wood construction and further improve competitiveness of wood as a construction material as part of Finland's bioeconomy development. Know-how and experience increase most through hands-on wood construction sites. This pertains to multi-storey residential buildings, public buildings, hall-like buildings and even wooden bridges. It requires continued good collaboration between the government, wood product companies and construction companies."
This year, the winner of the €100,000 Schweighofer prize, which is awarded every second year, is Dr Erich Wiesner from Austria. The prize for achievement over an extended period of time is a tribute to persons or organisations that have served as examples for the whole European forest and wood industry.
The awakening economic growth in Europe is expected to also boost the plywood market. Mika Sillanpää, the Executive Vice President of UPM Plywood, believes that the plywood market will grow even faster than at present after the economic growth in Europe has started. More than 90 per cent of UPM Plywood’s production is exported.
The construction of single-family houses using cross-laminated timber (CLT) is common in North America and Central Europe, and now this trend has also landed in the Finnish prefabricated house industry. The development of this construction method, which requires product and process know-how, is the result of the waning demand for prefabricated houses and changes in consumer habits in the field of construction. Olament Oy, a company that produces solid wood elements, and Vivola Oy, in charge of the turnkey process, expect the sales of this new product in the prefabricated housing market to grow rapidly.
Timber-framed module and prefabricated element engineering is a fast-growing solution for public construction in Finland. Cities and municipalities have discovered that timber-framed modular units on finance leasing are the best solution for urgent space requirements when building schools, day-care centres or sheltered housing for the elderly. The foundations of these movable buildings are quick to build and the elements are easy to transport and quick to install on site.
In Finland, Stora Enso will begin the production of LVL (laminated veneer lumber). In the second quarter of 2016, a new production line will start up at the location of an old paper machine at the Varkaus mill, which will make wooden building elements using lathe technology. The company’s aim is to supplement the present production of CLT (cross-laminated timber) and sawn timber with the renowned and much-used LVL engineering wood product, which is suitable for many construction applications.
Versowood Oy, Finland’s leading wooden bridge manufacturer, has managed to get the authorities to grant type approval for a glued laminated timber (gluelam) bridge for both pedestrian and vehicular traffic. Managing Director, Ville Kopra, is satisfied with the end result of the approval process which has lasted for years, and expects it to open up new markets for wooden bridge construction.
Petteri Orpo, Minister of Agriculture and Forestry in the Finnish Government, thinks it important that society creates the right conditions now and in the future for development work on and marketing of timber construction. Orpo takes the view that the action the Government has already taken to promote wood building, coupled with the relevant programmes, has been an important part of bio-economic strategy and the fight against climate change.
The Finnish furniture industry, which has established a global reputation through its design products, is in the grip of structural change. Last year, the value of furniture imports was almost four times greater than that of exports. With mass production being transferred to countries with lower production costs, the companies that are surviving in the furniture industry are those that specialise.