The rising proportion of newbuilding that is accounted for by single-family homes, terraced houses and other small buildings is increasing wood use. Nowadays, wood is the primary construction material in over 80% of newbuild small houses. Construction of residential areas comprising small buildings has increased, but the supply of these homes still does not equal demand in quantity or in diversity – this is especially true in the greater Helsinki area.
A report published recently by a working group monitoring the programme to promote wood construction states that, from a legislative perspective, there are possibilities for promoting the construction of wooden buildings and small houses. There’s no need to substantially revise legal provisions or regulations.
Instead, the application of provisions and regulations as well as the harmonisation of interpretations is in need of development. The municipal toolkit is already sufficient for increasing the wooden urban area developments and the supply of building sites. Without the strong backing of municipal decision-makers objectives cannot be realised.
The economic competitiveness of wood as a construction material and the high-standard professional expertise of the planners and implementers are essential factors for enhancing use of wood. Industrial-scale wood construction and its standardisation need to be further developed. Developers and builders in particular need to make decisions to increase the use of wood in the realisation of their projects.
While growing, trees bind approximately one tonne of carbon dioxide per one cubic metre of growth. Wooden houses have useful lives which can be measured in centuries and they act as carbon dioxide reservoirs during this time. Wood is energy-friendly because the manufacturing of a wood-based construction component creates less carbon dioxide emissions than competing products. In addition to this, wood products can be recycled and burned to generate energy at the end of their lifecycle.
Effort to promote wood construction continues
On 17 March 2005, the government resolution was passed to promote wood construction and the use of wood in Finland. It defines action guidelines for the public sector, in cooperation with business and industry, to promote the building of wooden and single-family houses. Other goals are increasing the degree of value-added and the value of exports in the wood processing industry.
There have been many projects associated with developing the construction of wooden and single-family houses in Finland that enhance the implementation of the government resolution. These include the Centre of Expertise Programme for wood construction, various pilot schemes, the Modern Wooden Town scheme and the Compact and low-rise development scheme, the building site supply working group, projects focusing on the speed and flexibility of zoning, schemes associated with the revision of building regulations and the development of building supervision controls as well as many studies and reports on changing housing needs. A working group monitoring the overall situation recently submitted a report and recommended a number of measures.
The ministries mentioned in the government resolution will continue implementation of the wood-use promotion programmes in 2004-2010 in cooperation with the entire field of actors. Reports on the success of these pilot schemes drafted in cooperation with the wood products sector will be included in the follow-up project during 2007-2010. Implementation of programme objectives will pay special attention to the establishment of good operating conditions and the removal of market obstacles in a manner that enables Finland’s building industry and manufacturers of construction materials and houses to compete successfully in the internationally construction markets.