Metsä Wood calls for collaboration in timber innovation
Modular construction, using timber as a key element, is a credible solution to fast and sustainable house building. However, Metsa Wood believes that more needs to be done in terms of sharing knowledge and innovation in wood construction to further advance the use of this material in mainstream construction.
In order to help facilitate this process, Metsä Wood has launched its Open Source Wood initiative at www.opensourcewood.com. Metsa Wood Executive Vice President, Esa Kaikkonen, explains: “Not enough knowledge about modular wood design and building is shared, so wood construction remains niche. There is plenty of innovation but it is difficult to find, so Open Source Wood is our solution. We believe that with open collaboration the industry can achieve significant growth.”
The potential of wood is undeniable and today, offsite construction has major aspirations. Prefabricated wood elements enable fast, efficient and environmentally sound design without reducing quality. Reports on the benefits of such a lean approach are compelling: In a 2011 study by McGraw Hill Construction, “Prefabrication and Modularization – Increasing Productivity in the Construction Industry”, of companies that have applied lean construction methods, 84% report higher quality in construction and 80% experienced greater customer satisfaction.
The report also highlights that almost 70% of projects that used prefabricated elements had shorter schedules and 65% had decreased budgets. Timber prefab construction also reduces other inconveniences such as the constant unloading of building materials, as well as the amount of on-site waste and the need to transport it. Innovation in the house building sector is key, and offsite timber construction could be key in achieving the high volume of housing required in the UK. Using new and innovative products like Metsa Wood Kerto®LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), homes constructed offsite can be turned around in a matter of weeks. Modern engineered wood products can be used for a variety of housing projects ranging from terraced and detached homes through to apartment blocks several stories high.
Across Europe, timber prefab construction is already mainstream, yet here in the UK we seem to be slow on the uptake. However, the tide is slowly turning with a greater need to provide affordable, adaptable and ecological homes.
Despite signs of progress, more needs to be done to help house builders, developers and planners better realise the potential that modern wood products can offer. It is hoped that the Open Source Wood project will help to highlight some of the innovative projects taking place across the globe and, through a collaborative approach, bring timber construction methods to the forefront of new house building in the UK.