The area of Construction and design concerns the construction sector and encompasses the entire value chain for wood, from timber to sawn wood commodities, and finally to interior design in buildings. This market deals with about 45 percent of all the wood that leaves the forest.
The value chain of industrial timber
One of our strongest global trends is urbanization. Half of the municipalities in Sweden report experiencing local housing shortages. Boverket – the National Board of Housing, Building and Planning – estimates that Sweden needs to build around 700,000 new homes by the year 2025, in order for the housing market to be in balance. At the same time, in 2012 the construction of houses, offices and other premises, accounted for about the same carbon dioxide emissions as half of all Swedish private vehicles that year. So, building more housing is necessary, but so is making it both cost-effective and sustainable. Bio-based materials and products should be seen as a decisive factor in the construction industry’s ability to convert to sustainable production.
In June 2018, the government published a National Approach on construction, stating that “developed wooden construction provides environmental and climate benefits as wood is a renewable resource that binds carbon dioxide from the atmosphere for a long period of time, and industrial wooden construction offers resource-efficient processes with lower climate impact”. As a means towards this, Boverket is working to introduce new requirements that all new buildings must be climate-certified.
In order to meet the demand for sustainable construction, extensive investments have been made in factories in Sweden, in recent years. The rate of production is expected to increase as more and more manufacturers of traditional houses change over to modules for multi-dwelling houses, and as the production of cross-laminated timber (CLT) accelerates. In 2017, 13 per cent of multi-dwelling houses were built with wooden frames. If this development continues with a steady increase in production every year, by 2025 industrial timber construction is predicted to be providing 50 percent of the multi-dwelling houses built in the Swedish market. This corresponds to approximately 17,500 apartments.
In addition to investing in industrial production capacity, investments in research and development are also needed in order to meet the increased demands of resource-efficiency, material properties, production, planning and construction.
For sawmills and manufacturers of wood products, the challenges and the opportunities are primarily linked to resource-efficient use of materials throughout the manufacturing process, but also to the utilisation of information. An important area of development is the ability to determine the characteristics of an incoming log by means of X-ray tomography early on. This allows the adaption of the subsequent processing, and the quality of the wood products can be optimised, depending on the final product to be manufactured.
The necessity for more efficient product development is common to all construction with wood, and here the development of digital tools is a crucial step. It is also essential to develop interrelated materials, following the principle of the right materials in the right place for optimal performance with minimal climate and environmental impact. These solutions also have to include the perspective of design for recycling.
In wood material production, improved properties are sought with regard to fire and moisture protection, degradation, hardness and wear and tear, to enable an even wider use of wood in a variety of applications. In the field of interior design, the development of digital tools is also required, including solutions that link sales and production and enable traceability backwards along the value chain.