Inaugural Wooden Architecture Policy Forum Brings Government and Industry Together

Developing the wood construction market in Korea comes with several challenges. Identifying them and working toward tangible solutions is key for industries and government in Korea to move together. In an effort to elevate policy issues and industry challenges, the National Assembly of Korea, Korea Forest Service and Architecture Policy Association of Korea (APAK) launched the first Wooden Architecture Policy Forum held at National Assembly Library on July 17, 2019.

The policy forum brought together stakeholders in the forestry industry, including architects, engineers, builders, academics, as well as government officials and trade association advocates to offer a platform to formulate their collective agenda and voice them to policymakers in the National Assembly and the Ministries of the Government.

The Forum is chaired bySang Jung Lee, Honorary Chairman of the APAK and former member of the Presidential Committee on Architecture Policy. Canada Wood Korea is one of the founding members of the Forum and has actively participated in the Inaugural Planning Subcommittee.

*The three members of the National Assembly who hosted the event are as follows:

  • Ju Hong Hwang, Chairman of the Agriculture, Food, Rural Affairs, Oceans, and Fisheries Committee
  • Duk Hyum Park, Executive Secretary of the Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Committee
  • Seog Jun Song, Member of the Land, Infrastructure, and Transport Committee

CABR LCA findings support WFC Applications


A recent Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) Research shows that wood frame construction (WFC) projects can greatly reduce carbon emissions during the building’s full life cycle compared with steel and concrete structures, which is strong evidence to support the environmental benefits of WFC.

The research was funded by FII China and represents a collaborative effort by Canada Wood China, China Academy of Building Research (CABR) – one of the most recognized Chinese government building research institute and think tank, as well as the Athena Institute – a leading Canadian LCA research firm.

The research took various sample WFC projects around China to calculate their LCA based on China’s national standard for “Building Carbon Emissions Calculation” and results show that carbon emissions of these projects are reduced by 8.6 percent to 13.7 percent.

The LCA system is used to assess environmental impacts associated with all the stages of a building product from cradle to crave, including stages as raw material extraction, materials processing, manufacturing and production, distribution, use, repair and maintenance, as well as disposal or recycling.

The results of the research were published during a bi-lateral roundtable organized by the CABR and FII China, and attended by executives of BCFII and CWC, and representatives of China Ministry of Housing and Urban Rural Development, Natural Resources Canada, and the Canadian Embassy. Representatives of the WFC projects that participated in this the research were also invited.

The WFC project was awarded a plaque that represents the percentage of their projects carbon emissions reductions on the roundtable, and next steps of WFC LCA promotions were specified during discussions.


China Economic Update

China’s GDP increased 6.2 percent year-on-year in the second quarter of 2019, slowing from a 6.4 percent expansion in the previous three-month period and matching market expectations. It was the lowest growth rate since the first quarter of 1992, amid ongoing trade tensions with the United States, weakening global demand and alarming off-balance-sheet borrowings by local governments.

The Caixin China General Manufacturing PMI rose to 49.9 in July 2019 from 49.4 in the previous month, beating market expectations of 49.6, but still pointing to a slight deterioration in business conditions. Output was little-changed following a decline in June amid a slight increase in overall new orders, while new export sales were flat. Looking ahead, business confidence regarding output for the year ahead improved to a three-month high.

2019 Economic Outlook

Economist Intelligence Unit forecasted that China’s real GDP will grow by 6.2% per year on average in 2019-20—just above the minimum level required for the government to achieve its 2020 goal of doubling real GDP from its 2010 level. Growth is expected to slow to an annual average of 5.5% in 2021-23. Beijing set a 2019 economic growth target of between 6 and 6.5 percent in March.

Meanwhile, the organization has amended its trade war forecast. It does not anticipate a trade agreement being reached between China and the United States until 2021.  In the interim, it expects both sides to refrain from further tariff escalation, although the risks to this forecast are high.

The Construction Sector

Home prices in 70 major Chinese cities were flat in Q2 2019, especially in first-tier cities in China, amid continuous government controls to curb speculation and prevent an overheated market.

Total investment in real estate had an accumulated increase of 10.9 percent year-on-year in June, slowing slightly compared to the previous months in 2019, at a growth rate above 11 percent.

Total floor area completed in Q2 was at 757 million m2, up 13.5 percent compared to Q1, but still below the same periods in 2018.

CAD/CNY gained strong overall momentum in Q2 2019. Although there was a correction last month it was still below the highs reached in October 2018.

China Wood Imports (cited from China Bulletin)

Softwood log inventories at China’s main ocean ports totaled 4.1 million m3 at the end of June 2019, a slight increase of 1.5 percent versus the previous month. Radiata pine log inventories were 6 percent higher from the prior month and represented 72.5 percent of log inventory. North American Douglas-fir and hemlock volumes declined 13.7 percent form the month before.

Softwood lumber inventories at Taicang port and the surrounding area were 1.56 million m3 in late June 2019, up nearly 10 percent from last month, excluding inventories of about 60,000 m3 at some new warehouses. The inventory level of SPF was 520,00 m3, the same as last month.


Korean Architect Explains Why Wood Infill Wall is Chosen

“A wood infill wall system could provide a common solution for load-bearing frames made from steel and concrete. The increasingly stringent requirement for energy-efficient buildings in Korea is among the main driving forces behind the use of this wall solution.”

This 4-storey, 21-meter cultural facility building near Seoul in Korea showcases the hybrid use of wood infill partition walls with a steel main structure. The structure is both lightweight and energy efficiency.

According to Min Kyu Lee, the architect of this building, the most commonly used wall solution in this type of structure is a sandwich panel, an insulated metal panel made up of polyurethane foam insulation between a finished metal exterior and interior face. Due to the increasingly stringent energy efficiency requirements, using sandwich panels makes it difficult to meet these standards. There are also concerns with construction quality in the application of this type of wall solution.

Another common solution, notes Mr. Lee, is to frame the wall with steel tubes. Given the high ceilings, this solution isn’t ideal either, as it would require larger steel wall panels that are heavy to transport and install. The interior finishing would also be time-consuming and costly when compared to other solutions.

Given the limitations of other wall technologies, it’s not surprising that Mr. Lee chose to use wood infill walls on this project. All wood infill walls in this project are made of Canadian SPF dimension lumber and APA certified OSB, and the key learnings from the implementation of this project could make a compelling case for him to apply the same technology in future projects.

The wood infill wall is an innovative hybrid building system Canada Wood Group promotes in order to expand the use of structural wood products in mainstream construction markets in China and Korea.

Korean Technical Mission to Canada Reflects Growing Interests in Wood Buildings

To learn more about advanced building systems in Japan and Canada, 17 Korean delegates joined a 12-day Technical Mission to Canada for Industrialized Wood Frame Construction (WFC) Technology from July 3-14. We were excited to have many architects join on this mission because, in Korea, architects are the ones driving wood-frame construction trends and projects.

Some highlights for them were learning about the Midply wall 2.0, which is an major upgrade on the current Midply system that provides better insulation, at FPInnovations; exploring the limits of sustainable buildings while touring a new Net-zero private home under the living building challenge in Vancouver; and seeing the advantages of using Nail-Laminated Timber (NLT) at the MEC Head office buildings and other leading wood buildings in UBC. It was a great opportunity for delegates to see the different uses of the Midply wall system, how to further design energy-efficient buildings, and explore the different design capability of NLT.

One of the delegates was Mr. Lee Kwang-hoon, CEO of ‘D’ Company who built Korea’s first Super-E House in Canada Village in Korea. As a strong advocate for wood buildings, he was recently featured on ARIRANG TV, a global TV network based in Seoul. He shared how “Super-E houses are built to maximize energy efficiency only with physical performance of the building materials, without using artificial energy-generating resources such as geothermal or solar power. It is an energy-efficient house with more than doubled energy efficiency compared to ordinary houses.”

We are excited to see wood enthusiasts like Lee Kwang-hoon learn and take the lead in wood construction in Korea. Through this mission, we look forward to him using more Canadian wood in his future projects.

This technical mission provided a great opportunity for delegates to see new ways to build safe, sustainable, and cost-effective structures and new tools that respond to the needs of early adopters of innovative systems.

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