Paving the Future: China Real Estate Industry Looks to Canada for Sustainable Building Solutions

By: Lance Tao

Export Development Program, Canada Wood Group

In early June, a group of experts from the China Real Estate Association (CREA) and China’s leading wood builder and designer gathered at a bustling construction site in Vancouver, where towering wooden structures showcased the future of sustainable building. Invited by FII and Canada Wood Group, the purpose of CREA’s visit was to learn about Canada’s practices in wood construction, focusing on prefabrication, energy efficiency, and mass timber use in midrise and large-scale public buildings.

CREA is a quasi-government body supervised by the Ministry of Housing and Urban-Rural Development (MOHURD), with Mr. Chen Yiming, the former MOHURD chief engineer, serves as its Vice President. The association serves as a think tank, providing policy advice and training sessions for the industry and government. Recognizing CREA’s significance, Forestry Innovation Investment (FII) and Canada Wood Group signed an MOU with CREA in May 2020, initiating several partnership projects to promote Canadian wood construction in China.

From left to right: Deng Kan (CAF), Michael Loseth (FII), Zhu Caiqing (CREA), Liu Guoli (FII China)

FII and Canada Wood Group meticulously planned CREA’s visit to Vancouver, showcasing the evolution and full value chain of Canada’s mass timber industry. Key highlights of the visit included:

Innovation A technical workshop at FPInnovations, led by Dorian Tung and Zhiyong Chen, introduced ongoing research in mass timber product development, prefabrication, modeling, and building code development. FPInnovations’ work has been crucial in removing non-tariff barriers in building codes and providing technical solutions for wood construction in China.

Delegation at FPInnovations

Design The delegation visited the offices of leading structural engineers Fast + Epp and Timber Engineering. They explored innovative mass timber applications, including the CLT fire wall, the Tectonus resilient seismic system, and Fast + Epp’s Concept Lab installation. Both companies have undertaken projects in China, notably Fast + Epp’s Tsingdao Visitor Centre, which remains a benchmark for future wood construction projects.

Delegation at Fast+ Epp office
Delegation at Timber Engineering office

Construction The group toured Adera’s SOL project in Coquitlam, a residential development exemplifying visionary mass timber usage. Adera’s success in the multi-residential market, particularly their proprietary solutions addressing sound and fire issues, captured the delegation’s interest.

Delegation at Adera‘s SOL Apartment project site

Networking The Canadian lumber sector hosted a formal dinner for the CREA delegation, attended by 23 distinguished guests, including representatives from Canfor, Teal Jones, Interex, ,Western Forest Products, FII and BC Trade and Investment office. This event underscored the mutual commitment to strengthening bilateral ties and fostering future cooperation.

As China transitions from expansive building practices to more sustainable development, the emphasis on prefabrication, low-carbon solutions, and energy efficiency creates significant opportunities for wood construction. This strategic shift can position wood construction as a key player in upgrading China’s construction landscape.