This Month’s Highlights
- China Economy, Construction & Lumber Shipments
- Risk of hard landing persists
- Bringing the CLT Buzz from Austria to China
- Japan Economy, Housing Starts & Lumber Shipments
- MLIT Officers Visit Wooden 6-Storey Residences in Vancouver
- MLIT Minister Issues 5 Certificates for 2-Hour Fire Resistive Approvals
- Midply Use Adopted in Second High Profile Midrise Project
- Platform Frame Midrise Gaining Momentum in Tokyo Market
- Communities Making Good Use of Reconstruction Projects
China Economy, Construction & Lumber Shipments
Reports indicate that Chinese property market prices rose more in August than they have in the last six years. New-home prices increased in 64 of 70 cities, marking a 9.2% increase year-on-year. In Shanghai and Beijing, prices rose 4.4% and 3.6%, respectively.
Some cities have introduced new restrictions in an effort to cool prices; in September Hangzhou, for example, announced that it would restrict home purchases for non-residents. Shenzhen and Shanghai have also tightened down payment terms and restricted purchases for non-residents. Read more
Risk of hard landing persists
Economic forecasting is a challenging task at the best of times. For a non-standard economy like China, it is even more difficult; the government has more levers of influence, policy changes are not part of the public dialogue and indicators are less transparent.
Some of the best insights we have available come from the Economist Corporate Network and the affiliated Economist Intelligence Network. We recently attended several events in Shanghai, where analysts from the Economist explained their views on China’s GDP growth, the property markets and exchange rates. Read more
Bringing the CLT Buzz from Austria to China
In 2012, the delegates at the World Conference for Timber Engineering (WCTE) were asked to cast their vote to determine the 2016 conference venue. Four years later, over 1,200 experts from 46 countries around the world gathered in Vienna, Austria. I think Vienna’s popularity reflected the growing buzz around Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).
As you might be aware, Europe – and especially Austria – has established itself as a hub of innovation for modern wood technologies such as CLT and Glulam. So what would be a better place to learn about these building systems? During the 4-day conference we had an opportunity to visit a number of contemporary wood-based buildings that successfully married technology with beauty, such as bridges, a waste treatment plant, residential buildings, shopping centers as well as research institutes and factories. As the world’s tallest wood building, UBC’s 18-storey CLT demo project was also front and center at the conference.
During this trip, my mission was to learn more about modern wood technologies, such as CLT, that can help us push for taller wood structures in China. This is especially relevant as we continue to work on the tall wood building code, which recognizes such technologies. The conference provided valuable insights on connectors, acoustic, moisture and seismic considerations of such structures. Read more
Japan Economy, Housing Starts & Lumber Shipments
On the surface, with 1.37 jobs available for every worker and an unemployment rate of 3.1%, Japan’s labour market is in a relatively sweet spot globally. But the growth of temporary non-regular employment since the end of the “salaryman” lifetime employment model in the early 1990s is one of the key factors in explaining chronic sluggishness in Japanese consumption. Despite government efforts to spur growth, household consumption fell 4.6% in August – for the sixth consecutive month.
Today part-timers and non-regular contract workers represent 40% of Japan’s workforce. While average wages for private sector regular workers average 4.8 million yen annually, part-time and contract non-regular annual wages average 1.7 million. Remediating the gap in regular versus non-regular employment is key to rebuilding Japanese consumer confidence. A government panel of labour reforms is now looking at drafting recommendations for labour market reform to address this gap in benefits as well as measures to increase workforce participation of women, the elderly as well as skilled foreign labourers such as nurses and construction workers. The panel tabled its recommendations to the end of the fiscal year. Read more
MLIT Officers Visit Wooden 6-Storey Residences in Vancouver
To support the development of midrise wooden construction in Japan, Canada Wood’s Fumoto san led a group of building officials from Japan on a recent visit to Wesbrook Village on the UBC campus – a typical wooden 6-storey residential community. Up until recently 6-storey wooden buildings were impossible in Japan as 2-hour fire resistive performance is required. But thanks to COFI and the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association jointly conducting a series of fire testing, we have successfully obtained the 2-hour fire resistive approvals from Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT). Read more
MLIT Minister Issues 5 Certificates for 2-Hour Fire Resistive Approvals
The Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) issued 5 certificates for 2-hour fire resistive PFC structures. These approvals are for 2-hour fire resistive performances of 2×4 exterior walls, partition walls, party walls and floor assemblies. The partition walls included not only conventional PFC walls but also a double midply wall system. Issuing date was September 6, 2016 and December 9, 2015. These accomplishments are thanks to a joint 2-year project where series of fire performance testing was conducted by COFI Tokyo and Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association. Read more
Midply Use Adopted in Second High Profile Midrise Project
Canada Wood Tokyo continues to focus on technical work and promotion of the Midply shear wall system for use in Japan’s midrise and large scale structures market. That’s why we were encouraged to learn the news about a second award winning 5 storey structure that will adopt Midply.
With a total floor area of 1,005 m2, this 5-storey building’s structure is 4 levels of wood frame construction sitting on a reinforced concrete parkade of the ground level. The second storey is a dental clinic, the third and fourth storeys are rental apartments and the fifth floor will be occupied by the owner, an orthodontist who is running the dental clinic on the second floor. The wooden assemblies will be provided by Mitsui Home Component, whom also supplied the structural components to the largest 2×4 building in Japan, Hanahata Asukaen, the first Midply project. Read more
Platform Frame Midrise Gaining Momentum in Tokyo Market
In early October Canada Wood visited the Rakuwa 4 storey elderly care facility under construction in Tokyo’s central Bunkyo Ward. The project’s basement and first floor are constructed of reinforced concrete with floors 2, 3 and 4 made with 2×4 platform frame fireproof construction. The total floor area is 5,370m2 of which approximately 60% is wood frame construction. Having gained experience in constructing numerous 2 and 3 storey platform frame elderly care facilities, the project builder’s Mr. Tatsukami of Yamamura Co., Ltd. expressed growing optimism at the market potential for 4, 5 and 6 storey PFC midrise buildings. Read more
Communities Making Good Use of Reconstruction Projects
On October 5th, Natural Resource Canada’s Assistant Deputy Minister Glenn Mason and Canada Wood Japan’s Shawn Lawlor visited the Jericho Support Centre reconstruction project in Iwaki City, Fukushima to see how the community was making use of this facility. A year and a half has passed since this Canada Tohoku Reconstruction Project has been completed. Local officials informed us that the Jericho Centre serves as a main education centre to provide computer and life skills training to residents with disabilities so that they can learn employment and independent living skills and re-integrate with the community. Read more
South Korea Economy, Construction & Lumber Shipments
South Korea’s GDP per capita reached US$27,214 in 2015 and is expected to touch the landmark US$30,000 level (be more specific, US$31,744) in 2018 contingent upon some economic conditions including annual GDP growth of 2.8% for 2017 and 2.9% for 2018.
South Korea extended its trade surplus streak to 55 consecutive months in August on the back of a turnaround in exports for the first time in 20 months. Exports rose 2.6% to US$40.1 billion in August from a year ago to snap a 19-consecutive-month losing streak that started in January 2015 and imports at the same time also turned around to edge up 0.7% to US$35 billion marking the first on-year growth in 23 months resulting trade surplus came to US$5.1 billion in August.
South Korea’s consumer prices increased 0.4% in August, the slowest pace in 16 months from a year earlier rekindling concerns of possible deflation saddled with a protracted slump in domestic demand and falling exports. Country’s unemployment rate edged up to 3.6% in August, compared with 3.5% tallied in July. The monthly gain in employment was majorly led by the construction sector on the back of a fresh boom in the real estate market.
The exchange rate for Canadian Dollar averaged at 855.24 won in August, 2016, down by 4.63% from 896.80 in August, 2015 and down by 2.59 % from 877.97 in one month earlier. Read more
South Korea’s Recent Quake could spark 2X4 Construction
On September 12, 2016, a 5.4-magnitude earthquake occurred in the southern region near Gyeongju city, 371 kilometers southeast of Seoul. This quake was the strongest ever recorded in the country since KMA (Korea Meteorological Administration) began monitoring seismic activity in 1978. Many parts of the country felt the shocks and some locations even evacuated buildings. No serious injuries were reported, but many residents have been suffering from anxiety and fear.
In terms of property damage, the quake and aftershocks damaged the roofs of some traditional Hanok houses, which Gyeongju, the ancient capital of the Silla Dynasty during 57 B.C. to 935 A.D., has been striving to keep intact as a key tourism asset.
South Korea has been considered relatively safe from earthquakes as it is located away from the Pacific seismic belt, known as “Ring of Fire”, but this latest string of seismic activity has triggered public concerns over whether the Korean Government will be able to cope with the fallout from a major earthquake. This being said, seismic experts have raised concerns the Korean Peninsula is no longer a safe haven from seismic waves and may experience severe earthquakes of 6+ on the Richter scale. Read more
Canada Super-E® house training attracts industry professionals
The 12th Annual Advanced Technology Construction Training (ATCT) was held at the University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) in Chilliwack, BC, Canada. This year’s program was from July 5 to 15 and totalled 22 professionals (6 architects, 10 WFC builders, 4 building material distributors a university professor and a university student). This year’s program focussed on energy efficient wood frame house technology called ‘Super-E’ in collaboration with Super E Office/Energy Efficient Exporters Alliance (EEEA) and UFV.
As part of the training, participants studied Super-E house technology concentrating on air-tightness, insulation and ventilation systems and built two mock up houses focussing on Super-E technology systems. According to survey results, participants were very happy with the overall course content and practicality.
At the end of the course, 20 of the participants applied and wrote the exam for the Super-E Designate license. All 20 applicants passed successfully and will receive the certificate and official Super-E Designate number from Super-E Office in November. Read more
The Mark of the Beginning of Korean Tall Wood Buildings
South Korea is on the tall wood building bandwagon! The Central Laboratory of Forest Genetic Resources Department (FGRD) of the Korea Forest Research Institute (KFRI), completed in May 2016, is the largest wood frame construction in Korea. The laboratory, established in Suwon City in Gyeonggi Province, has four storeys above ground with an architectural area of 4,500 m2 using post and beam construction. The glulam beams, which allows for wide spans in multi storey and large scale wood frame construction, has drawn keen attention from the Korean building industry and future building owners.
participated in Canada Wood Korea’s Architect Mission to Canada in 2014, where he had the opportunity to visited numerous wood built development sites in the Okanagan, Banff, Calgary, Whistler and Vancouver. Since then, he has been a huge advocate for wood frame construction and has made steady and persistent efforts. As a result, he won first prize in the design competition for the FGRD laboratory in June 2013. Read more