As part of the APA “Canadian OSB Users Newsletter” project, our consultant and I recently visited a housing company in Kanagawa Prefecture to interview them about a 1-storey wooden factory building that will produce organic leaf vegetables for restaurants and supermarkets in the Tokyo area. By analyzing changing demographics and economic conditions, and with climate change impacting outdoor crop production, the housing company decided to strategically shift into this new business – industrialized farming – by owning and operating this plant, called World Farm.
This non-residential platform-frame construction structure in Sagamihara City used both Canadian OSB and SPF dimension lumber to achieve a seismically resistant, highly insulated air-tight structure. The housing company President commented that only a wooden structure (vs. steel or concrete) could create a safe, stress free environment for growing vegetables, which are living organisms. For this reason, he believed a wooden structure would offer a much more productive environment than other types of structures and since the plants would not be exposed to the elements they would be able to sustainably supply vegetables throughout the year.
The project has a floor area of 1,515 m² and used platform-frame wall panels constructed with 9 mm 3×10 Canadian OSB and 2×6 SPF lumber. The panels were provided by a local plant and the wood trusses from a Tokyo based truss manufacturer.
The excellent cost performance of long-length Canadian OSB allowed for cost savings that the they believe will help achieve a project that is within budget. Further, the strong message about the low environmental footprint and environmentally sustainable attributes of Canadian wood products will allow them to positively promote the vegetables produced in this building.
The Tokachi 2×4 Association celebrated its 40th anniversary on October 24th and 25th. The organization is made up of twenty-two local 2×4 home builders and they design and build some of the best quality 2×4 homes in Japan. COFI has supported and worked closely with association since inception. In the Tokachi region of Hokkaido, where the association is based, it has expanded the market share for 2×4 homes in the region to 60 percent, the highest in Japan. The organization’s members continue to be valuable customers for Canadian lumber and panel products (SPF and OSB) and strong 2×4 ambassadors for us here in Japan.
To commemorate and further strengthen or ties with this local home builders’ association representatives from the Canadian Embassy, Government of Alberta, COFI, Canada Wood and Canadian SPF lumber and OSB panel producers attended the two-day 40th event that saw over 100 individuals gather for this memorable occasion. The first day of the event began with three keynote speakers providing a history, a look forward, and brand power of the association followed by a dinner party and reception. The second day of the program consisted of construction and housing site visits, where members of association proudly showed off the craftmanship of the airtight and energy efficient homes that they design and build in the region.
At the event, Mr. Tadashi Akasaka current chairman of the association, whose father was the first chairman 40 years ago, expressed his gratitude to COFI and Canada for all the help and support the members have received over the years and his hope the next generation will continue to strengthen these ties and build on this legacy in the future.
On October 18th, Canada Wood’s Shawn Lawlor delivered a keynote presentation at the JAS 2×4 Lumber Council’s symposium for their Building Products Study Group. A total of 45 lumber end users and purchasing managers attended the event. The presentation covered recent North American production, housing, export and supply trends as well as the global movement towards Midrise, large scale and Tallwood construction. COFI informed the group of Japan technical and market development initiatives to expand wood use in Japan. Exit surveys revealed the highest approval rating for the COFI presentation. Feedback from buyers indicates that this kind of information download helps purchasing and sales representatives with important background data to support their daily business development activities.
We are working on a technical project to obtain third party voluntary evaluation of 2×10 and 2×12 dimension lumber in post and beam horizontal applications this fiscal year. This project will give both architects and structural engineers solutions ― long span horizontal diaphragms.
Lately, some Japanese lumber producers began to saw up logs into dimension lumber made of Sugi and Japanese dimension lumber was adopted some projects. But their sectional sizes are mainly 2×4 and 2×6, and length is 8 feet. Also, their E-value is typically around E-70. In other words, they are not suitable for horizontal applications as joists and rafters. The importance of this project is to enhance our market presence in what Japanese dimension lumber cannot do. Canadian dimension lumber can provide sectional sizes 2×4 to 2×12, and the upper limit of the length is 20 feet. And SPF E-values are 25% to 30% higher. We have several competitive advantages over Japanese dimension lumber in horizontal applications. This third party technical voluntary evaluation will clearly demonstrate the scientific basis for wide with dimension use in rafter and joist applications.
We have filed application forms for Center of Better Living last month. The evaluation is expected to complete by the end of this December and to expand market penetration of wide width dimension lumber in post and beam joist and rafter applications. We look forward to it.
Subsequently to establishing an NLT technical committee in April 2018, COFI and the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association has been working together on several Nail Laminated Timber (NLT) test programs. One technical project is to confirm NLT bending performance. From September 5th to 12th 2018, a series of bending tests were conducted at the HOWTEC* laboratory to NLT beams. The test specimens consisted of 2×8 and 2×10 SPF with 8m span (with butt joints), 2×6, 2×8 and 2×10 SPF with 3.7m span (without butt joints) and 2×6 Sugi with 3.7m span (without butt joints). The main objective of these tests was to accumulate basic data for the future evaluation by the MLIT** designated bodies. The project leader is the renowned University of Tokyo professor Dr. Inayama, who developed these tests after a thorough review of the Canadian Design & Construction Guide of the NLT, published by the Binational Softwood Lumber Council and Forestry Innovation Investment. Dr. Inayama pointed out that the key element of the bending performance evaluation is to analyze the mechanism of bending stress transfer across the butt joints. Additional NLT technical work is being conducted to confirm fire resistive performance. The final test for the performance evaluation (seeking Ministerial Approval for fire resistivity) is scheduled in mid-November. As reported in this blog on August 23, 2018, the fire resistive approval is the key to promote NLT after the Japanese Building Standard Law is amended in 2019.
*HOWTEC: Japan Housing and Wood Technology Centre
**MLIT: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism