Chinese Minister issues strong official endorsement for wood construction
Chinese Central Government Minister issues strong official endorsement for wood construction
Friday, May 20, 2016

Thursday May 4 was an important day for China’s wood construction community, as Minister Chen Zheng Gao of MOHURD (Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development) publically championed...More

Thursday May 4 was an important day for China’s wood construction community, as Minister Chen Zheng Gao of MOHURD (Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development) publically championed for wood construction in a speech to a gathering of senior officials in Beijing. The full speech was posted on the China Network Television homepage (www.CNTV.cn), China’s 16th most visited website with approximately five million weekly visits. 

During his speech, Minister Chen highlighted the environmental benefits of building with wood compared to steel and concrete and discussed the need to promote wood construction in China, to correct prevailing misconceptions about deforestation, and to continue to develop favorable conditions for wood construction.

The message signals a new, more positive tone from the central government and marks the first time that a senior government leader has become an advocate of wood construction. Contents of the speech have also been included in training materials for the National State Council’s Chinese Academy of Governance, which is the highest level organization offering political training in China.

Minister Chen discussed a wide range of topics in addressing an audience of approximately 800 officials and members of academia. Topics ranged from urban planning and construction strategies to wood construction as a viable solution for construction industrialization (prefabrication). During this speech, the Minister recognized new opportunities to use wood, including a reference to the 18-storey “wood building” under construction in Canada. 

According to FII China General Manager Lisa Dou,Public support of a high-ranking government official will help strengthen the profile of wood with different levels of government and within the construction industry. We are also hopeful that the Minster’s support will help drive forward policy development work and draw the construction industry’s attention to wood. However, we still have a lot of work to do in order to bridge the gap between government recognition of wood and commercial activity”. 

When market development efforts began in China over a decade ago, there were no policies that favored wood. In fact, public perception of wood construction was generally negative and official endorsement of wood was non-existent. This speech reflects the valuable work carried out by market development agencies including FII China and Canada Wood China. Ongoing activities include technical transfer, government relations, education and training, as well as marketing and promotion.

Minister Chen’s speech was part of the “Reports of the prospects of the 13th Five-Year Plan” held at the Great Hall of People. During the session, each of China’s ministers detailed how the latest 5-year plan will impact the direction of their respective ministry. MOHURD is one of China’s 20 ministries under the State Council and is responsible for providing housing and regulating construction, including policy development and establishing codes and standards.

TRANSLATION OF THE SPEECH

Link to the video (in Chinese). The Minister discusses wood at 1 hour 33 minutes to 1 hour 38 minutes.

I believe that it is important for China to create favorable conditions for modern wood construction. Why do I say “favorable conditions”? When MOHURD drafted the proposal of promoting wood construction to the State Council some people expressed concern regarding deforestation. However, it is incorrect to assume that building wood structures will lead to deforestation.

It has surprised me that the State Forestry Council has been our greatest supporter in promoting wood construction - I wouldn’t have expected this. I myself am a long-time supporter of wood construction; I believe we owe this to our future generations. When we look at Japan, more than half of their residential buildings are built with wood; in rural areas this figure is almost 100%.

The benefits of wood are manifold. First of all, wood is renewable, recyclable and biodegradable. Wood can grow from the earth – concrete and steel can’t. We have to damage our environment to produce both. We will see how many years we have left until there is nothing left to extract.

Secondly, wood structures have several advantages. They are low-carbon, environmentally friendly, energy-efficient and better insulated. They are also suitable for high seismic areas and are fast to construct. According to our study, a wood frame building uses 45% less energy during the construction phase and 50% – 70% during the usage phase compared to a concrete structure.  

Moreover, we can build both low and high-rise wood structures. In Canada the highest wood buildings are up-to 18 stories. Wood is also suitable for both residential and public buildings. I have a photo of the waiting room of a foreign airport where the long-span beam was made from manufactured glulam.

However, China lacks localized codes for both construction and building materials industry that relate to wood. Therefore, we have applied North American and Northern European standards. We are far behind - if China would promote wood structures to even half of the extent of Japan, we would dramatically improve the construction industry’s environmental footprint and building energy-efficiency. We would also give birth to a new industry that would need lots of manpower to plant trees and to manufacture materials. Wood needs to be treated and fabricated, this is a huge industry. Therefore, we need to collaborate and do our best to promote wood structures in China.

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Coastal inlet in B.C.
B.C. invests $8 million to advance wood and grow global markets
Friday, April 8, 2016

KELOWNA - The Government of British Columbia announced today that it is investing $8 million to promote the use of B.C. wood, help advance wood building systems and products, and to...More

KELOWNA - The Government of British Columbia announced today that it is investing $8 million to promote the use of B.C. wood, help advance wood building systems and products, and to expand global markets for B.C. wood products.

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Peter Bradfield, FI India Technical Advisor, addresses the local wood importer community in Gujarat, India
Peter Bradfield, FI India Technical Advisor, addresses the local wood importer community in Gujarat, India
FII promotes Canadian lumber in Gujarat, India
Saturday, February 13, 2016

On February 13, 2016 FII India participated in the Vibrant Kutch event held in India's westernmost state of Gujarat. Gujarat is a notable market for wood imports and exports as the ports...More

On February 13, 2016 FII India participated in the Vibrant Kutch event held in India's westernmost state of Gujarat. Gujarat is a notable market for wood imports and exports as the ports of Mundra and Kandla have emerged as forerunners accelerating economic growth in the region. In order to engage with the wood import community, FII India organized an information session to share creative applications and design possibilities when using Canadian wood. The hour-long interactive seminar focused on wood import and export trends, growth of sawn lumber and the adoption of Canadian wood by large-scale Indian manufacturers. The presentation gave the audience a comprehensive overview of Canadian wood and its possible applications in India.

“It is heartening to note that in spite of the country's fascination with tropical hardwoods, the import of softwoods has been growing steadily from 29% to 38% over the last three years. We have also seen a positive trend in the import of lumber growing from 2% to 10% over the last three years." - Peter Bradfield, FII India Technical Advisor. 

For more information on FII India and upcoming events in India, please visit www.canadianwood.in/about-us

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Prefabricated wall-panel production at the Quacent factory in Dalian, China.
Chinese government issues guidelines to make cities greener and more livable
Saturday, February 6, 2016

On February 6, 2016 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Opinion on Further Enhancing Urban Planning and Construction Administration,...More

On February 6, 2016 the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council issued the Opinion on Further Enhancing Urban Planning and Construction Administration, which provides recommendations and guidelines on urban development in China. As one of its strategic priorities, China aims to increase urbanization to 60% by 2020.

“The guidelines provide a strong indication of how the Chinese Central Government positions prefabrication in its pursuit of sustainable urban development” says FII China General Manager Lisa Dou. “We also view it as an encouraging development for the Chinese wood industry, as the guidelines mark the first time the Chinese government has recognized wood at this level.” The Central Committee includes the China Communist Party’s top leaders.

FII China and Canada Wood China plan to leverage these guidelines as they continue work to bridge the gap between government recognition of wood and commercial activity. Prefabrication offers an opportunity to position wood as a cost-competitive alternative to concrete, as prefabricating concrete is capital intensive. Currently, wood is considered a niche premium building solution; however, wood construction technologies are well-suited for prefabrication and can help advance sustainable urban environments in China.

Highlights related to prefabrication and wood construction

One of the key objectives set out by the guidelines is to improve construction quality, which requires the development of new construction models. Accordingly, the guidelines encourage the promotion of prefabricated construction, which can help reduce construction waste and dust, shorten construction time, and improve construction quality. The guidelines aim to increase the use of prefabricated components to 30% in all new buildings by 2026.

To achieve this goal, the government recommends:

  • the formulation of design, construction and inspection standards and codes for prefabricated construction,
  • the revision of building component standards and codes for industrialized manufacturing, prefabrication and on-site installation,
  • the establishment of a national manufacturing base for prefabricated construction,
  • the active and steady promotion of steel construction, and
  • the development of modern wood construction in areas where conditions permit.

Forestry Innovation Investment is the Province of B.C.’s market development agency for forest products. With offices in Vancouver, Beijing, Shanghai and Mumbai, FII actively promotes the environmental merits of building with wood from sustainably managed forests. FII China and Canada Wood lead market development efforts in China with support from Natural Resources Canada.

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