During the fall of 2014, Chinese fire-norms regarding load-bearing wood constructions was eased, which possibly has major implications for Western wood imports and technology in China. Wood technology might be part of the answer to solve China's energy and climate goals and has already seen implementation in a new Eco-city project in northern China since the recent changing of the legislation.
Steel and concrete is currently mainly used for modern Chinese construction, but during the fall of 2014, the Chinese regulations were eased regarding load-bearing wood constructions after lobbying from Canada Wood and European Wood, which can have far reaching implications for wood exports and wood technology in China. Thanks to intense deforestation, wood is missing in China as a raw material for a coming 20 – 40 year reforestation cycle where Western companies potentially can step in to fill the void.
”I’m convinced that wood export and services connected to these exports have a big potential in the Chinese market. Coupled with China's growing economy comes increasing domestic environmental awareness and the desire for sustainability. In that context, Western know-how and raw materials will be attractive in China”, says Magnus Nikkarinen, Sweden’s former agricultural advisor in Beijing.
”A determining factor for success is of course that the basic conditions are there to increase exports, and then its important to work on reducing the technical obstacles that could limit the opportunities. With new fire norms that was implemented, these conditions are now in place!”
Earlier this fall, a new fire-norm was implemented in China which allows for construction of new enviromental friendly wood constructions.
The wood exported into China as of now is mainly for decoration and carpentry, but the ease of the fire-norm regulation allows for increased construction of large-scale houses with wooden frames, infill walls, wooden truss constructions, hybrid constructions and glued laminated timber and also allows the construction of supporting wooden houses in up to three stories.
Jan Söderlind, the international director for Swedish Wood is happy about the development but thinks it is just the start. “It’s a step in the right direction; we are happy with the current conditions in China, but want to go further. Our goal is a fire norm that matches the Swedish regulations,” he says in a press-release.
Tangshan Bay Eco-City
The easing of the fire-norm has already had implications for construction in China. In Tangshan Bay Eco City, a billion dollar project to build an environmental friendly city which can potentially house over 1 million people, wooden constructions that previously where banned because of the Chinese regulation are now seeing the light of day thanks to Swedish architectural firm Tyréns.
”Part of the area in the new eco-city will work as a demo for modern wood construction and that’s where we can contribute with our knowledge regarding multiple residencies-constructions in wood and our experience in implementing new technology in a market where it hasn’t been allowed before”, says Tomas Alsmarker, vice President of Tyréns in a press-release.
Wood constructions might part of the solution to meet China’s demands for green construction and energy reduction goals and will be implemented in the new green city Tangshan Bay Eco-City by Swedish architectural bureau Tyréns.
Wood is a climate friendly material
Thomas Axelsson, business developer in the Swedish consulting firm Scandic Sourcing has seen an increased interest for wood as a raw-material in China. ”Wood is a climate friendly construction material that can be highly relevant in China considering the new fire-norms and China’s plans to reduce emissions”, Thomas says from his office in Shanghai. “During my six years in China, we mainly helped companies buy materials from China, but now we have started seeing tendencies of an increased demand of Western know-how and raw materials in regards to wood constructions".
In the numbers: China’s construction boom
During the next 20 years, around 50 000 skyscrapers are expected to be built in China
During 2015 around half of all the world's construction will take place in China.
China consumes 40% of the world’s construction according to Shanghai’s Research Institute of Building Sciences (SRIBS).
The overall goal is to reduce the energy usage with 65% in all cities until year 2020.