|The Nordic Timber l and the collaborative effort European Wood have begun working with the U.S. and Canada to improve opportunities for building with wood in China. Initially, this unique partnership involves fire regulations and codes that currently limit the use of wood in the building sector. The leading Tianjin Fire Research Institute, which is a part of the Ministry of Public Security, is active in the project.”The collaboration between the Canada Wood Group, the American Forest & Paper Association, European Wood and the Ministry of Public Security is a breakthrough for long-term efforts. By cooperating across continents, we are improving our ability to influence and contribute to efforts,” explains Jan Söderlind, managing director of the Nordic Timber and chair of European Wood. ”And thanks to the fact that the research institute falls under the Ministry of Public Security, which has ultimate responsibility for fire legislation, our ability to influence codes is very promising.”The Chinese are very aware of the dangers of fires and have relatively strict building codes related to the use of wood and fire regulations. Within the building sector, the codes pay particular attention to how flammable a material is and since wood is flammable, there are exaggerated limitations on how wood can be used for building.“The codes in many cases do not reflect current research within the field,” says Hans Dutina, project manager for European Wood. “Our approach is therefore based on transferring western scientific findings to the Institute, identifying Chinese fire codes that do not correspond with scientific findings, and suggesting new codes.”
The potential equals the entire Nordic and German production
The potential for the use of wood in the Chinese building sector is huge. Within the segment non-bearing walls and roofs (wood trusses) in city homes with concrete foundations, the potential is approximately 50 million m³ per year. That is nearly equal to the entire production in the Nordic countries (Sweden, Norway, Finland) and Germany of about 52 million m³.
”The building systems and methods used in China cannot continue in the long term,” says Jan Söderlind. “Too much high-energy material is being used per square metre of housing because of the heavy building methods (concrete, masonry) and energy use for heating and cooling is very high. A change of fire codes and standards helps us introduce new building systems on the Chinese market and achieve sustainable development, at the same time that we naturally open up for the Nordic mechanical wood industry.”