Exploring Wood Construction for Sustainable Education Facilities: A South Korean Delegation’s Vancouver Visit

By: Lance Tao

Communications Manager, Canada Wood Group

Delegation group photo at KPU Wilson School of Design

In a stride towards sustainable building practices and the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050, a delegation of senior planning officials from the Jellanam-do Office of Education in South Korea embarked on a transformative journey facilitated by Canada Wood. Led by Mr. Sungchae Bae, Chief Engineer of the district, and Chief Architect Jinhong Park, the group delved into the innovative world of wood construction in education facilities during their visit to Vancouver, Canada.

The tour, assisted by Canada Wood Vancouver office, provided these Korean delegates with invaluable insights into the potential of wood construction. Their exploration encompassed visits to prominent mass-timber education buildings in British Columbia, offering real-life examples of how advanced energy-efficient and mass timber products can be harnessed for sustainability and green building practices across various settings.

Group visiting Lonsdale One Building in North Vancouver

A significant catalyst for change emerged in Korea in 2020 when the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) made a groundbreaking decision. They revised the Korea building code and abolished both total floor area and height restrictions for wood buildings.

Prior to this revision, wood buildings in Korea were restricted to a maximum height of 15 meters (at the eave) and 18 meters (at the roof ridge), with a gross floor area limit of 3,000 m² under the Korea Standards. The game-changing demonstration project, known as Han-Green, was a five-story mixed-use building featuring cutting-edge materials like two-hour fire-rated Cross-Laminated Timber (CLT), along with other conventional and engineered wood products. The project, completed by the Korea Forest Service in 2019, showcased the safety and structural performance of new high-performance wood products like CLT.

Canada Wood’s ongoing commitment to fostering global wood construction knowledge brought these senior planning officials from Korea to Canada. By facilitating interactions with key stakeholders, including developers, government entities, and architects, Canada Wood aims to bridge the knowledge gap and accelerate the Korean building industry’s adoption of the latest wood construction technologies. This strategic collaboration is essential to encourage greater utilization of Canadian wood in Korea’s construction sector.

As Korea advances towards its carbon neutrality target, initiatives like this educational visit stand as beacons of collaboration and innovation, paving the way for a more sustainable future through wood construction.