The slump in construction activity is temporary in nature, however, and once the construction sector recovers, the advantages of wood products will become highlighted even more prominently than before.
The global financial crisis has caused construction volumes to fall. Europe was building less than was needed even before the crisis, and this will lead to a powerful surge in demand once the economy recovers. Similar developments have occurred in the United States. Wood construction is the dominant mode of building in the USA and the country thus has a central effect on the wood products industry’s market.
In spite of the global turmoil, the cost competitiveness of wood construction has remained excellent. Compared to competing materials, the price of wood increased at a lag when the price of construction products was rising. Since then, the price of wood products has also been decreasing at a faster pace. In exterior walls, for example, wood is up to 40% cheaper than competing materials. The differences are even higher in the case of construction joists.
A particular advantage with wood products is their good availability, which will remain secure also in the future. Wood is also the only renewable construction material. Price fluctuations caused by the increasing scarcity of non-renewable natural resources and, on the other hand, by increasing demand do not affect wood as severely as they do non-renewable materials. The powerful rise in the prices of the latter has been caused by demand peaks on the world markets.
Construction growth will increasingly focus on wood
A global increase in basic manufacturing activity over the last few years will cause shortages of key non-renewable natural resources in the near future, and this will lead to price hikes.
Growth in the use of renewable wood is sustainable because Europe’s forest resources are growing faster than their consumption. Growth in the use of wood also creates opportunities for new innovations in construction.
Wood has a strong position in the Finnish construction market, alternating with concrete as the market leader in the construction materials segment. In 2007, 40% of all new-build buildings were equipped with wooden frameworks and almost half of all exterior cladding was done with wood.
Wood has also improved its standing in international construction-related comparisons. In Sweden, Norway and the United Kingdom, for example, wood has been increasing its share in the construction of multi-storey buildings in particular.
In addition to improving the quality of building and the productivity of work, industrial wood construction has also made building projects considerably faster. Builders who use wood have been able to respond to the increasingly challenging demands of their customers better than the competition has. The renaissance of wood is also evident in international construction publications, which are devoting more and more pages to wood architecture.
The time is now ripe for wood construction projects. Prices are competitive, labour is available and the reliability of product deliveries is good. Technical studies reveal that a carefully-crafted wooden house is solid and energy-efficient, even more airtight than its rivals. The transition to low-energy construction in 2010 will not increase the cost of wood construction substantially. An energy-saving wooden house pays back the extra investment cost quickly. Studies have determined that new wooden houses are also fire-safe.
Building with wood slows climate change. Growing trees utilise atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is stored in wood. A wooden building binds this carbon for a long time.
The average Finnish single-family wooden home binds about 30 tonnes of atmospheric carbon dioxide. This is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions caused by 10 years of average motoring.
Antro Säilä, Senior Vice President, tel. +358 (0)9 132 6633, email@example.com
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