On July 29th, Canada Wood Japan-based staff held a Canadian Structural Wood Products Technical Workshop in Naha with a new local customer, Edge Co., Ltd., to introduce and promote the platform frame construction method and Canadian structural wood products. Representatives from COFI Interior & Coast and APA provided a one-hour workshop on 2×4 construction, SPF and OSB to Edge’s staff and their clients; two construction companies and one architectural firm in which a total of ten individuals participated. Upon the conclusion of the workshop, an informal Q&A session was held so that both participants and Canada Wood staff could directly interact, followed by a job site visit. This exercise proved to be invaluable – as most of the partakers had little or no knowledge of 2×4 construction, let alone Canadian structural wood building products. As a follow-up, COFI will be conducting a one-day regional 2×4 seminar in Naha on October 14th, where we will have a First-Class Japanese Architect provide first-hand knowledge and instruction for companies based in Okinawa on how to design and construct 2×4 homes in Japan.
In these challenging times of global pandemic and rising geopolitical tensions, it’s nice to come across a good news story that celebrates the friendship and bonds between nations. To wit, the Japanese Post Office has recently issued a limited edition stamp collection (inset left) to commemorate the city of Natori’s bonds with Canada. Located in Miyagi Prefecture just outside of Sendai, Natori was the location where two of Canada’s reconstruction projects took place following the devasting earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011. Under the Canada Tohoku Reconstruction Project, the Canadian forest industry partnered with the federal and provincial governments to rebuild the “Donguri Anne Public Library” and the “Yuriage Public Market” projects in Natori. Both projects were completed in early 2013 and proved to be instrumental in the community’s rebuilding efforts. The City of Natori also conducts ongoing exchange programs for middle school students in Natori and Victoria B.C. Canada Wood and Canadian government officials continue to regularly participate in events in Natori to build on the friendships developed over the past number of years. The limited edition stamp collection is in part Natori’s way of saying thank you for the support and friendship received from Canada.
Yuriage Public Market
Donguri Anne Public Library
June 2020 Japan Housing Starts
Recessionary pressures and the Covid 19 pandemic weighed heavily on construction activity. June total housing starts fell 12.7% year over year to finish at 71,101 units. Owner occupied housing declined 16.7% and rental housing fell 13%. The mansion condominium market fell 2.0%. Wooden housing fell 14.3% to 41,218 units. Post and beam starts fell 10.5% to 32,981 units. Wooden prefab fell 11% to 957 units. Platform frame starts dropped 27.4% to 7,280 units. By housing type, the breakdown in platform starts is as follows: custom ordered homes dropped 24.2% to 2,389 units, rentals declined 29.6% to 3,996 units and built for sale spec homes decreased 25% to 892 units.
June 2020 Non-Residential Construction
June wooden non-residential starts totaled 1,514 buildings for a floor area of 287,060m2. Year over year June non-residential wooden floor area declined 16.6%. Non-residential wood use for the month is estimated roughly at 50,236m3. Wood held a market share of 35% by number of buildings and 9.5% by floor area for the month. In the first 6 months of 2020, wooden non-residential floor area declined by 10.7%. By usage elderly, medical care and social welfare facilities topped the list, followed by mixed residential-commercial and agricultural buildings.
May total housing starts continued to trail year prior results, falling 12.3% to finish at 63,683 units. Owner occupied housing declined 20.7% and rental housing fell 8.1%. Wooden housing fell 15.6% to 35,632 units. Post and beam starts fell 15.5% to 27,914 units. Wooden prefab fell 4.5% to 940 units. Platform frame starts posted a 17.5% decline to 6,778 units. By housing type, the breakdown in platform starts is as follows: custom ordered homes dropped 26.8% to 1,977 units, rentals declined 8.5% to 3,975 units and built for sale spec homes decreased 30.6% to 805 units.
May wooden non-residential starts totaled 1,287 buildings for a floor area of 249,167m2. Year over year May non-residential wooden floor area declined 10.2%. Non-residential wood use for the month is estimated roughly at 43,604m3. Wood held a market share of 37% by number of buildings and 7.4% by floor area for the month. By usage elderly, medical care and social welfare facilities topped the list, followed by mixed residential-commercial and agricultural buildings.
As a result of a multi-year market access initiative aimed at opening the Japanese market up for nail-laminated timber (NLT), COFI recently received certificates from MLIT* for the quasi-fire resistive structure approvals. The approvals confirm 1-hour quasi fire-resistive performance for NLT floor assemblies and 30-minute quasi-fire resistive performance for NLT roof assemblies. After a Building Standard Law amendment in 2018, large scale buildings or any buildings in fire protective districts can be built with char-margin (sacrificial layer) design approach. This approach can be achievable with quasi-fire resistive approvals. The ministerial approvals we obtained this time can be a trigger to facilitate the spread of large-scale wooden buildings using NLT horizontal diaphragms that are visually exposed. COFI has been working with the Japan 2×4 Home Builders Association since 2017 to conduct the fire testing of NLT at the laboratories of Centre for Better Living and Japan Testing Centre for Construction Materials. The MLIT issued the certificates jointly in the name of COFI and the Japan 2×4 Association Home Builders Association.
*MLIT: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism