Minister Rehn: Wood construction is part of bioeconomy development

Minister Rehn: Wood construction is part of bioeconomy development

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."

The current value of Finland's bioeconomy is about 64 billion euros, of which the wood product industry represents about one quarter. "The wood product industry is a central part of the bioeconomy," Rehn stresses. "From the standpoint of the national economy it is extremely important that timber be refined to the greatest extent possible and that the wood product industry's competitiveness is solid. Wood products often represent the highest possible degree of refinement in the mechanical timber-refinement value chain."

Goal is internationalisation and export in the wood product industry

According to Rehn, public measures must create conditions for innovation and development of new products in the wood product industry, as they also lead to positive environmental impacts and ensure upkeep of the forestry bioeconomy's raw materials. "It is also important to facilitate internationalisation and exports for companies in the wood product industry."

"Expansion of this programme also furthers the export of wood products for refinement, and we can no doubt help wood product companies grow in the export market. Now it is important to get companies to actively participate in the programme. It is also important that know-how in wood construction is further increased and that education is continued in cooperation with the industry's working life and educational institutions."

Research and development work has brought new innovations that companies productise and commercialise. The breakthrough in wood construction was made possible by new industrial and construction systems that companies brought to market, which improve productivity and quality in the construction industry.

"Even though due to Finland's economic situation the government has had to reduce public R&D funding in some areas, by focusing funding more clearly on bioeconomics we can diversify the use of wood through new investments, particularly in the R&D sector."

Government dismantles obstacles to wood construction

Rehn feels that good results have been achieved in recent years in furthering wood construction. This is evident for example in the growth of wooden multi-storey residential buildings. "Interest in wood construction has increased particularly among municipal decision-makers and planners."

"The greatest potential for growth in wood use lies in construction of new apartment buildings, energy repairs to facades of suburban multi-storey buildings and construction of additional storeys, hall-like buildings, wooden bridges as well as yard buildings and landscaping," Rehn says.

Rehn reiterates that the government is committed to eliminating construction regulations that prevent the use of wood in construction. "It is also important that the wide range of interpretations related to construction regulations is eliminated. The starting point for regulations should be based on functional requirements, and should be written so clearly that no contradictory interpretations can arise among construction regulators and fire officials."

Example set by the state and municipalities plays a central role in furthering wood construction

The background of growth in wooden apartment-building construction lies in municipalities' increased interest in the use of renewable, low carbon-footprint wood in construction. Rehn feels that municipalities will play a central role in wood construction and other bioeconomic development in the future, as well. "Collaboration between municipalities and the state must be further developed to stimulate development of bioeconomics. The state and municipalities can set an example to lead the way in furthering wood construction by acting as planners, customers or builders. The new procurement law will enable this by providing greater and more diverse possibilities."

Rehn stresses that development of industrial wood construction increases options and competition. "When competition increases, efficiency improves and all suppliers begin to develop their products and services."

"The government's goal is to diversify and increase the use of wood. Through wood construction we can also bring new offerings and competition to construction of apartment buildings. Competitive factors in wood construction are seen to be for example domestic and renewable raw materials and speed of construction. By replacing non-renewable materials with renewable ones we can significantly reduce our carbon footprint," Rehn adds.


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