On June 1st Canada Wood’s Shawn Lawlor was asked to deliver a presentation on wood design to the Showa Women’s University Faculty of Architecture. A total of 83 second year architecture students attended the lecture delivered, by request of the University, primarily in English. The lecture covered the properties and characteristics of Canadian species and forest products including SPF, OSB, Hem-Fir (N), Douglas Fir, Yellow and Western Red Cedar. Suitable end use applications in both residential and non residential construction were presented for the respective species. The lecture also covered a case studies of the Canada Tohoku Reconstruction projects, discussing elements of wood design in non-residential construction and lessons learned from multi-stakeholder collaboration. Exit surveys from the students attested to a high degree of interest in the presentation topics – many of whom expressed interest in pursuing further studies in wood design.
The 27th Canada-Japan-US trilateral meetings were held from September 26th to 28th in Montreal. These are the Building Expert Committee (BEC) meeting and the Japanese Agricultural Standard Technical Committee (JTC) meeting. Both BEC and JTC meetings have been held annually since 1990. Meeting venues have alternated between Canada, US and Japan. At this year’s meetings, Japanese delegation explained the recent Building Standard Law amendments, CLT technical projects, large scale wooden project trends, overview of the wooden housing stimulating policies and JAS standard revisions. Canada presented Canadian design standard CSA O86 revisions on CLT structures, Midrise case studies, Tall Wood initiatives and preservative measures for wooden buildings. Presentations from US included Mass Timber Buildings and lumber/wood products acceptance in US building codes. All three participating nations re-affirmed the value that this conference represents to national and respective industry interests, but this year’s conference also included constructive discussions to renew and refresh the conference terms of reference as well as meeting frequency and location to optimize the value and relevance of the conference to participating industry and government representatives. Dialogue is continuing between Canada, the United States and Japan to redefine and optimize the BEC/JASTC conferences in the future.
Economic Update: Japan Real Estate Showing Signs of Bottoming Out
According to a recent survey of nationwide land values published by MLIT, Japan’s real estate market is showing signs of recovery. Although land values in the majority of rural areas continue to sputter as a result of declining population, prices are firming in large metropolitan areas such as Tokyo, Osaka and Nagoya. Land values rose in 1,349 locations in these three metropolitan areas. Commercial and residential land values fell 1.8% across all regions in Japan; however, the rate of decline is the slowest in 4 years and is predominantly concentrated in rural locations. For example in remote areas such as Kochi Prefecture land values registered a 6.2% decline.
The increase in urban regions is being fueled in part by growing investments by REITs and affluent overseas investors. This year to date, REITs have invested 850 billion yen into properties, already exceeding 780 billion yen invested in all of 2012. Overseas investors are also ramping investment in the Japanese condo market. After a prolonged period of deflation, condominiums in Tokyo are comparatively cheap compared to cities such as Shanghai or Hong Kong. The recent weakening of the Japanese yen is adding further stimulus to draw the attention of international investors.
Housing Starts Summary
Japan total housing starts increased 5.0% in January to 69,289 units. Owner occupied housing advanced 8.6% compared to a 1.6% rise in rental housing. The “mansion” condominium market edged 1.0% downwards. Total wooden starts advanced 6.2% to 37,307 units.
Wooden post and beam starts rose 5.1% to 27,791 units. Wooden prefab starts were up 10.3% to 1,358 units and total prefab expanded 5.4% to 11,710 units. Platform frame starts posted a 9.7% increase to finish at 8,158 units, representing a 5 year high for the month of January. By segment, owner occupied custom 2×4 homes advanced 13.4% to 2,386 units; rentals were up 7.9% to 4,497 and built for sale spec homes registered a 9.7% jump totaling 1,261 units.
Japan SPF Exports Update
Total 2012 SPF exports to Japan totalled 763.6 million fbm, registering a 2.4% decrease compared with 2011 results. The total value of Japan SPF exports was $376.4 million in 2012 compared with $387.3 million in 2011.
Japan Airlines has been a long term business partner of COFI and the Canada Wood Group. The corporate relationship has provided safe, comfortable and reliable travel throughout Asia at discounted prices. We are pleased to extend this program to all Canada Wood, COFI and SPF Group members.