CTI Blog

CTI Blog - Why Build In Wood?

This article is by Paul Brannen, MEP for the North East England Region. It originally appeared on www.northeastlabour.eu

 

Historically timber has been used to build homes, especially one and two storey buildings.  Taller and larger buildings have been possible with timber frames but above 5 or 6 storeys is rare.

However, relatively new engineered timber products such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Laminated Veneered Timber (LVL) have the structural strength of steel and concrete, enabling wooden framed buildings to now be built to much taller heights and on a much larger scale.  

These new products have enabled the construction of the world’s tallest wooden building, Tallwood House at Brock Commons East, on the campus of the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada.  It is 53m tall with 18 floors - you can watch it being constructed in under 3 minutes here. 

Wooden buildings even taller than this are currently under construction including the HoHo building in Vienna, Austria which will have 24 floors, see here, and a Japanese company are planning on building the world’s tallest wooden skyscraper.  Other wooden skyscrapers are being built or are planned across the globe.

There are many benefits to be gained from building in engineered wood, including:

 

Speed

Building in wood can see a floor a week being constructed on site, as the wooden panels are constructed off site in factory conditions. This is twice as fast as concrete.  Overall wooden buildings can be up to a third faster to build reducing construction site costs i.e. the hired crane is there for less time.

 

Sustainable

Timber is a renewable and sustainable product when managed and produced in an environmentally friendly way.  Construction timbers, such as CLT, LVL and Glulam, are made with a non-toxic adhesive and can be made with little or no burning of fossil fuels unlike steel, brick and block which all need large amounts of heat to produce and they tend to derive this heat from the energy produced from burning fossil fuels.  The actual chemistry involved in making cement for concrete results in large amounts of CO2 being released. Theoretically this could be captured (Carbon Capture and Storage - CCS) but to date it has not happened.

 

Sequestration of Carbon

While trees are growing they sequestrate carbon from the air. In fact trees could rightly be described as CCS ´machines´. When trees are turned into timber products the timber still continues to sequestrate the carbon for the life time of the wooden product, hence timber is a natural “carbon sink”.

Tall and/or large steel and concrete buildings have large carbon footprints.  Comparable wooden buildings can have a reduced carbon footprint of 60-75% in comparison. 

 

The importance of substituting for steel and concrete

Concrete and steel have large carbon footprints.  One of the primary ingredients in concrete is cement and to make cement you need to heat and grind up limestone or a similar material. In addition to the energy required in the manufacturing process, the U.N calculate approximately 1 ton of carbon dioxide is emitted per ton of cement produced.  As concrete is the second-most consumed substance on the planet, after water, cement production accounts for as much as 8 percent of human-produced carbon dioxide emissions.

Concrete and steel are both heavy to transport involving large numbers of lorries that in turn generate exhaust fumes that contribute to poor air quality especially in our cities and they also burn fossil fuels exacerbating climate change.

Wooden buildings can be five times lighter than a steel and concrete equivalent meaning transport costs both financially and environmentally are reduced. Lorry deliveries to the construction sites where wood is the principal building material can be reduced by 80% because wood is lighter and needs fewer lorries to move it. As wood is lighter this can also reduce the groundwork (foundation) costs.

A 125m high building made from wood could have a 75% lower carbon footprint than one made from steel and concrete.

50% less energy is used to manufacture wooden rather than concrete buildings and only 1% of the energy needed to produce steel.

During construction wooden buildings produce less dust and their construction is quieter, which is good news in urban areas.

Following construction in cold climates the estimated energy consumption and carbon emissions for CLT buildings are 9.9% and 13.2% lower than those of reinforced concrete buildings in view of life-cycle assessment; see here for more information. 

Currently using building methods centered around, concrete, steel, brick and block, the building sector is responsible for 42% of final energy consumption, 35% of total greenhouse gas emissions, 50% of extracted materials and 30% of water consumption in the European Union. Construction and housing have a fundamental role to play in enhancing societal goals for sustainable growth, see here.

 

Health/Ambiance

Wooden interiors deliver a multiple of physiological and psychological benefits including:

- reduced blood pressure, heart rate and stress levels

- improvements to a person’s emotional state and level of self-expression

- improved air quality through humidity moderation.

 

Renovation and Refurbishment

As a light-weighted material that can be processed easily, wood is the ideal material for renovation and refurbishment, allowing high flexibility for inhabitants and users to adjust buildings to specific needs. 

 

Cost; Timber/CLT v concrete/block/steel

A question often posed is whether building in wood is cheaper than building in a material such as concrete. To help answer this question, Building magazine undertook a price comparison in June 2017 and noted:

“We have prepared two detailed cost models, one each for a CLT and concrete design for a seven-storey private residential building. The scheme has been designed with both a timber and concrete solution in mind at the outset, with a structural layout to suit both.

“…the construction cost variance between timber and concrete for this hypothetical scheme is minimal. The higher CLT superstructure costs are offset by the ability to reduce pile quantities because of a lighter frame, hence a saving on substructure. The CLT programme for the frame and upper floors is around 10–15% shorter than the concrete option, resulting in a lower preliminaries cost.”

The cost of wooden buildings can be kept down by pre-fabricating panel sections in factory conditions where they can be made to the millimetre, meaning that there’s little to no waste.  Doors and window apertures can be pre-cut in the factory.  Government figures show about a third of the materials that arrive on a construction site using concrete tend to get sent to landfill resulting in more lorries on the road.

In April 2018 Alinea Consulting produced an influential report that highlighted the advantages of using CLT over concrete. The report, Residential Timber: Cost Model, suggests CLT is a viable alternative and uses two detailed exemplar cost models to demonstrate the point.

Wooden buildings are more energy efficient meaning longer term the owners will both use less energy and pay smaller energy bills.  If the CLT used is thick enough then an energy saving of 14% could occur. This is because wood has a natural thermal efficiency which means timber systems can be more cost effective in constructing energy efficient buildings than concrete, block or bricks.

Additionally, In a recent (July 2018) independent study produced by Rider Levett Bucknall (rlb.com) a comparison was made between the cost of timber frame v masonry build methods in order to determine which is more economical for affordable housing.  The study found "the overall situation ... results in the timber frame solution being more economical to construct" p16.  It was also "quicker".  

 

Fire

But aren’t wooden buildings more prone to hazards and natural disasters?

Buildings made from CLT have no inherent fire risk.  When brought into contact with fire the outer surface of the wood chars and then acts as a very effective insulator for the wood below.  When the heat source is removed the fire goes out. Furthermore, CLT remains more structurally stable when subjected to high temperatures.

See demonstration of an attempt to set fire to CLT with a blow torch in this Economist video on wooden skyscrapers here.

Further, Silvia Melegari wrote in Revolve that CLT buildings, “have the flexibility to handle the world’s strongest earthquakes with no loss of life or structural change”.

 

Who is designing and building big in wood already?

Architects

Waugh and Thistleton, London: http://waughthistleton.com/

White arkitckter, Sweden: http://whitearkitekter.com/project/skelleftea-cultural-centre/

Bob BBL, Norway: https://www.bob.no/

Acton Ostry, Vancouver, Canada: http://www.actonostry.ca/

LEVER, Portland, USA: https://leverarchitecture.com/

 

More Information: Interesting Links and Articles

Videos

What is Cross Laminated Timber?  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YuAya0hRjwU

The world’s tallest wooden buildings: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v3JqSsc8ZKk

TED talk by architect Michael Green, ‘Why we should build wooden skyscrapers’:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xi_PD5aZT7Q

 

Articles

Innovative Wood Products Collaborative, ‘Why build with wood?’ http://www.themostnaturalresource.com/why-build-with-wood/

New Statesman, “Why wood is making a comeback in house building”, http://bit.ly/2PEXq4s

Building, ‘Cost model: residential timber’ http://bit.ly/2yPDguQ

Sustainability Open Access Journal, “A Comparison of the Energy Saving and Carbon Reduction Performance between Reinforced Concrete and Cross-Laminated Timber Structures in Residential Buildings in the Severe Cold Region of China” http://www.mdpi.com/2071-1050/9/8/1426

Revolve Magazine, Spring 2018 Issue: https://issuu.com/revolve-magazine/docs/revolve_27_digital

Benefits of Urban Trees, a FAO infographic: http://www.fao.org/3/a-c0024e.pdf

The contribution of wood-based construction materials for leveraging a low carbon building sector in Europe: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210670716305923

Adoption of unconventional approaches in construction: The case of cross-laminated timber: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0950061816313514

Cost gap between CLT and concrete is narrowing: https://www.trada.co.uk/news/cost-gap-between-clt-and-concrete-is-narrowing/

Cement Industry Urged to Reduce Invisible Global Emissions http://bit.ly/2OtyYOE

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-why-build-wood]

CTI Blog - The 4 wonders of the timber industry

This guest blog post is by Andrzej Manka, Sales Manager at Timber Expo.

 

When we think of innovative sectors, the timber industry probably isn’t the first that springs to mind. Many believe this industry is very traditional, conservative and reluctant to change.

In a word - die-hard! This is especially true when you compare it with other industries: new tech or finance for example, not to mention AI. In our ultra-modern world, we appreciate constant growth, astonishing productivity and impressive innovation above all else.

But this stereotype doesn’t match with the reality; the timber industry is now up there at the top of UK and international innovation lists. Admittedly, these represent only a small minority of timber companies, but their success gives the industry dynamics and makes it the leading power in the whole construction business.

As Daniel Kahneman states in his brilliant book “Thinking, Fast and Slow”, stereotypical and simplified thinking is a characteristic for the “Fast system” of thinking, the type we use to understand something immediately and without any unnecessary effort. This way of thinking and making sense of the world evoke an image of the timber industry as rather backward, and poor in innovation. However, there is a second way of thinking, the “Slow system,” which enables us to go through all important details and deal with the more complex issues.

When you take the time to study the timber industry, as I have been doing for the past 11 months, you will discover so many astonishing and innovative projects in the industry that you’ll likely fall in love in timber quite easily. Not to mention that wood is beautiful, and makes our homes and offices so much more aesthetic, natural and trendy.

“A timber revolution is in the air.” - this is the first sentence of the description of the fantastic exhibition in Roca London Gallery.

“Construction heading towards a 'timber revolution” - proclaims another exciting headline from a video published by BBC

Alex de Rijke, of dRMM described wood to be the new concrete: “Concrete is a 20th-century material. Steel is a 19th-century material. Wood is a 21st-century material.”

Timber is becoming the leading material in construction industry in the UK and is nearly 30% of the whole construction projects.

The value of the timber industry to the British economy is £7 billion.

So let’s have a look at the four wonders of the timber industry. They are not really “wonders” in a literal sense; they are actually the result of creative, courageous and hard working timber specialists. This is, of course, a very subjective (dare I say even controversial?) list of “Four wonders.” It’s more like an invitation for us to discuss certain achievements in the timber industry. 

One other thing- this list list contains different categories like technology, production, and architecture. Maybe it’s a bit risky to compare projects that belong to different science or business activities, but let’s try. 

 

1. Transparent wood

Invented first in 1992 by German researcher Siegfried Fink and then, independently developed by Professor Lars Berglund. This Swedish KTH research group, led by Professor Liangbing Hu from The University of Maryland, have elaborated a method to remove the color and some chemicals from wood. Thanks to that, the wood becomes 90% transparent. Potential application of this invention is very far-reaching and the wood could be used in construction, interior design and even the car industry.

 

2. Engineered wood

On the image above you can see an example Cross-laminated-timber housing in east London; “a 10-storey carbon-neutral apartment complex in London's Dalston, the "world's largest cross-laminated timber building".

Engineered wood technologies are what makes the timber & construction industry so dynamically developing and profitable. The most used in the construction industry are plywood, fibreboard, cross-laminated timber (CLT), laminated strand lumber, and many more. Because of the use of these timber products, it’s been predicted many times during the last decade that timber will be the main building material in XXI century.

 

3. Timber skyscrapers

At the moment, the world’s tallest timber building is a 14-storey apartment block in Bergen, Norway. However, we are expecting a lot of new timber skyscrapers in the UK, USA, Europe and Asia in future. One of the advanced projects that should be started very soon is an 80-storey, 300m high wooden building integrated within the Barbican (on the image above). Around 1,000 new flats will be build in this impressive 93,000-square-metre timber skyscraper project.

Timber skyscrapers are not only stunning examples of strong “timber trends” in contemporary architecture, but they also bring sustainable development to big cities, as well as reducing carbon emissions.

 

4. Museum Globe of Science and Innovation

Are you familiar with the history of the Internet? If so, you’ll know that Tim Berners Lee invented the World Wide Web when he worked in The European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN) based in Geneva, Switzerland. The same organization has built the Globe of Science and Innovation, a fine example of outstanding construction. The museum of modern technology, made of wood, is a perfect concept. It creates a very special atmosphere for those who wants to stop for a moment and contemplate the nature of technological innovation.

 

There are so many more impressive wooden wonders of the world! You can find literally hundreds of great examples. One of my favorites is The Splinter, a wooden sports car with a twin-supercharged 4.6 litre V8.

Not to mention an interesting initiative from Metsa, one of the world’s leading timber companies. They have just started the Open Source Wood initiative, a project to encourage innovation and the sharing of knowledge inside the timber industry. Metsä Wood’s Executive Vice President, Esa Kaikkonen, explains why the project was established: “Not enough knowledge about modular wood design and building is shared, so wood construction remains niche. There is plenty of innovation but it is difficult to find, so Open Source Wood is our solution. We believe that with open collaboration the industry can achieve significant growth.”

There is still many ways in which the timber industry can evolve, but there is no doubt that the timber revolution has already started and it looks very exciting!

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-4-wonders-timber-industry]

CTI Blog - What does the construction industry want from its timber suppliers?

This guest blog post is by Charlie Law, Managing Director at Sustainable Construction Solutions. This article was previously published in the TRADA Timber 2017 Industry Yearbook.

 

The UK consumes circa 16 million m3 of sawn wood and panel products annually, the vast majority of which is believed to be used either directly or indirectly by the construction industry. But is the timber industry giving construction industry customers what they want with regard to sustainability?

This will probably depend on who you are talking to within the supply chain, but according to some senior sustainability managers from a number of major contractors, there are some fundamental requirements that must be met. The primary concern (other than getting the right timber on site at the right time) is that it must be from a verifiable legal and sustainable source.

For legality, this will need to meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation. However, when talking about sustainability, contractors are not just looking at the environmental issues, such as ensuring the timber is harvested from forests that will be replanted, they are looking to ensure the wider social and economic issues are also met. Associated with this is local sourcing, which is becoming a key requirement for a number of construction clients. There are also the issues of resource efficiency, and alternative and innovative new products and how these may perform over time in a given situation.

 

Responsible sourcing

Members of the UK Contractors Group (UKCG, now part of Build UK) have previously issued procurement wording stating that: ‘All timber products purchased for either temporary or permanent inclusion in the works on UKCG member sites shall be legally and sustainably sourced, as defined by the former UK Government Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET).’ Many contractors have qualified this by stating that they will only accept timber that has full chain of custody via a third-party certification scheme that meets the requirements of CPET. CPET requires that any approved scheme must meet its full range of sustainability requirements, such as:

  • forest management planning to reduce net deforestation and restrict land use changes
  • minimising harm to ecosystems including protection of soil, water and biodiversity, and
  • control on the use of chemicals and correct disposal of waste.

CPET also ensures traditional tenure and use rights are observed, consulting and working with indigenous populations who rely on the forest, labour rights (freedom of association, elimination of forced or child labour and discrimination), health and safety of workers, training, grievances and disputes. At the time of writing, CPET has only approved the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes as being compliant with its requirements, achieving almost identical scores in the latest review from 2015.

In addition to these minimum requirements, many clients and contractors have specific project or company requirements that could include an FSC-only policy or a requirement for FSC or PEFC project certification. For example, some clients and contractors are members of the World Wide Fund for Nature Global Forest & Trade Network, which promotes the use of FSC-certified wood.

 

Local sourcing

Another key requirement in recent years has been the move by contractors, in many cases at the request of the client driven in part by the Social Value Act, for more locally sourced products and services. The UKCG procurement statement was redrafted to include this the additional requirement: ‘We will give preference to schemes that support the principles of the Social Value Act, eg the use of timber and timber products which are assured as “Grown in Britain”’ and this was published on the Grown in Britain website. The majority of UKCG members subsequently signed up to support the Grown in Britain campaign and procure British grown timber where feasible. Grown in Britain also forms part of the social value assessment carried out by the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Grown in Britain is a not-for-profit organisation that is trying to reconnect the British public and business to our woodlands and the timber resources it can provide. According to the Forestry Commission Timber Utilisation Statistics 2015 Report, only around 15% of the sawn softwood the construction industry uses is sourced from the UK, and although there are no specific figures for hardwood used in construction, the Forestry Commission Statistics 2016 state that UK sourced hardwood made up less than 10% of the total hardwood market. Therefore individuals and organisations must insist on using Grown in Britain timber wherever practicable to improve these statistics.

The Grown in Britain licencing scheme (GiB) is a chain of custody scheme that confirms the provenance of timber, and is specifically aimed at timber grown in the UK and products manufactured from this timber, as well as the woodlands. In most cases it will sit alongside a product’s FSC or PEFC chain of custody certification, but in certain circumstances, such as where there is a requirement to source timber from a particular local woodland, it can also act as an assurance of legality and sustainability. The key requirement of a GiB licensed woodland is that it meets the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). Timber traceable to a forest with a fully implemented forest management plan in line with the UKFS requirements and guidelines also meets the UK Government’s Timber Procurement Policy.

 

Circular economy

With more focus on the circular economy, and the associated resource efficiency, clients and contractors are also looking to incorporate more reused and recycled material into their projects. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes the circular economy as “one that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.” Although timber is the construction industry’s ultimate renewable resource, this does not mean it should be sent out as biomass for energy production, or worse landfill, after its first use. Many timber components can be either reused in their original form or recycled into new materials such as chipboard, keeping them at their highest utility and value.

There are a number of reuse organisations that will collect unwanted timber from construction sites and timber processors for reuse. One of these is the National Community Wood Recycling Project (NCWRP), which is a social enterprise that has been promoted by many in the construction industry as it helps to create sustainable employment for local people, especially those who might find it difficult to get into employment.

FSC and PEFC both have allowances within their schemes to cater for recycled content within a product. Ensuring products containing recycled timber materials are certified to one or more of these schemes helps to demonstrate that resource efficiency has been considered in the manufacturing process.

The timber industry should also be looking at how its products could be easily removed and reused at the end of their service life. This could be removable hoarding panels that may only be in place for a few months, or floorboards that could be in place for a lot longer.

 

Timber delivery documentation

For contractors receiving deliveries on a construction site, the key to confirming whether a product is FSC or PEFC certified (or Grown in Britain licensed) is the delivery ticket. All the above schemes require a minimum amount of information, including the claim and the certificate number, to be noted on both the delivery ticket and the invoice. However, all too often timber, or more likely timber products, turn up on site without this minimum information on the delivery ticket. This needs to be addressed by the wider construction supply chain to ensure full chain of custody is maintained throughout the supply chain. In addition, one thing contractors would really like to see on delivery tickets is the volume of product (preferably against each item, but a total volume would be useful as a minimum) as this aids with the reporting required for project certification and industry monitoring.

 

Educating the wider construction supply chain

Where timber merchants, who generally meet the documentation requirements, are supplying materials to manufacturers they know are supplying into the construction industry, but they are not part of the timber industry (for example, lift cars contain a surprising amount of timber and panel products), it would be great if they could impart their knowledge on chain of custody and its requirements; this is something the Timber Trade Federation is looking at. In addition, the Supply Chain Sustainability School has some useful online training modules on chain of custody and what is required, produced in association with Exova BM TRADA, which can all be accessed free of charge.

 

Alternative products

There will, however, always be situations where it may not be possible to obtain a specified product with the right sustainability requirements, for example plywood is not manufactured in the UK, so a Grown in Britain plywood product would not be obtainable at this time. This is where the knowledge of the timber industry should really come to the fore, by suggesting alternative products that may suit a client’s requirements. For example, it may be possible to use an OSB board instead of plywood, as this would be available from a home-grown source.

Linked to this is the rise of modified wood products such as acetylated timber (for example, Accoya®) and thermally modified products (Brimstone and ThermoWood®). These are now increasingly being specified for external applications in lieu of other timber species due to their improved resistance to insect and fungal attack.

Where there is any doubt as to the proper application of a timber product, the contractor can always be referred to TRADA for their expert opinion. Call the TRADA Advisory line on 01494 569601.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-what-does-construction-industry-want-its-timber-suppliers]

CTI Blog - Offsite timber construction has a major role to play in tackling UK Housing Crisis

This blog post is by Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the Structural Timber Association (STA) and Member of the CTI Board of Directors.

 

Through discussion, debate and demonstration, the Government appears to have made the connection between construction and manufacturing and we have foreseen great potentialities within the ‘Industrial Strategy’ for offsite construction to play a significant part in delivering more homes to meet the shortfall in housing stock.

The Confederation of Timber Industries and the STA firmly believe that offsite timber construction is a great opportunity to reach the specified target of one million homes by 2020. With four out of five new homes in Scotland built using structural timber together with much of the housing volume in Canada, the US and Europe – we know that offsite timber solutions deliver.

In the main it will address many Government concerns associated with public procurement of housing including speed of build, environmental impact, lifetime energy efficiency and cost performance. These factors are not only of benefit to Government plans but to the wider construction industry. Cost savings, speed of build, faster return on capital outlay, reduction in waste, improved health and safety - are just some of the benefits of offsite timber construction. Add to this the unrivalled capacity and availability of materials within a robust supply chain combined with a sector that is quick to respond and it’s a clear choice.

Innovation in the structural timber product range has broadened the appeal, driven by intelligent and integrated construction solutions. We can demonstrate how easy, practical and efficiently projects can be completed, having a direct impact on transforming communities, while conveying the dynamic and fast-moving pace of the sector and the excitement that can be engendered when delivering innovative construction methods. 

UK manufacturers of structural timber components have a major role to play. We are geared for capacity, have the skills and materials to respond quickly and the experience to create a world-class offsite manufacturing sector in the UK. Current capacity is typically run on a single day shift only, making increases in output by multi-shifting relatively easy to do. Assuming full year outputs the sector can deliver around 150,000 units in 2020/2021, up from around 80,000 in 2017/2018.

I’ve never known such unified agreement that offsite construction is the solution - there is acceptance at pretty much every Government level, national, regional and local, that offsite is what is needed. The time is right for the construction industry to embrace innovative offsite timber technology and develop better buildings at a rapid rate to meet Government targets, to overcome the shortfall in housing stock, while delivering energy efficient buildings in a cost-effective quality manner.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-offsite-timber-construction-has-major-role-play]

CTI Blog - Offsite: If it's not a System, then It's not a Solution

This guest blog post is by Gerard McCaughey, CEO of Entekra Inc

 

In Europe wood frame construction market adoption varies widely from virtually 100% in Scandinavia to 70% in Scotland and about 30% in Ireland and many other central and western European countries. However, what is common in all the countries, where wood frame is used, is that virtually all of it is constructed using an off site construction (OSC) system.

Most of the customers in Europe, whether they are builder/developers or custom home end users, understand the benefits that off site systems (OSC) can deliver in terms of speed, efficiency, quality, energy efficiency and sustainability. It would virtually be as alien to a European to stick build a wood frame house, as it would be to buy a new car and have every single component shipped to your front yard and have a couple of local mechanics come out in a pick up truck with welding equipment and pneumatic tools to build the car. You simply wouldn't dream of it.

Why ignore that 100 years of innovation and progress

Yet in the US market this is exactly how wood framed houses are built, without taking advantage of the last century of innovation and ignoring the benefits of computers, modern automation or factory controlled conditions and quality systems. The real question is Why?

Really the question is better phrased as why have off site solutions not been more widely adopted by the US construction industry?

Off Site System providers not component manufacturers

A large part of the reason is due to the nature of the "off site" industry in the US. In Europe and other parts of the world, the off site companies are part of a dedicated off site industry and categorically see themselves as offsite system providers and not as component manufacturers. In fact the term component is hardly ever used by the off site industry outside the US as the off site companies realize that the customer is not interested in purchasing components but rather is seeking a solution. The so called components are merely an output and form elements of a system which is a solution to the problem the builder wants addressed. They are not the raison d'être of the off site company.

Off Site benefits come from an integrated approach

Until there are dedicated Fully Integrated Off Site System providers it will be very difficult for the builder/developer to gain meaningful benefits and for off site solutions to gain a bigger share of the framing market. One of the major obstacles to this is the requirement for an experienced in house engineering team, as off site solutions will always be compromised if they are forced to use engineering that was designed for stick framing.

In particular, design, engineering and manufacturing of Pre Fabricated Floor Cassettes (PFC) requires a lot of internal engineering expertise. PFC's are are a critical element of off site construction in the multi-story , multi-family and light commercial markets. Engineering for maximum off site efficiency requires a detailed in depth knowledge of factory manufacturing techniques, structural engineering and the off site building process and connection detailing including sequencing and materials selection.

Until those in the industry with a genuine interest and vision for the potential of the "off site industry" realize that they need to become more than just component manufacturers and instead act as off site system/solution providers and resource themselves accordingly, the industry will fail to reach its potential, despite the the labor shortage, which is forcing builders to look for new solutions.

True off site companies are solution focused businesses that happen to manufacture components as an output of an integrated system that's purpose is to facilitate the fast track construction of a building utilizing both labor and material efficiency. Off site companies may manufacture components but they are not component manufacturers!

 

*Gerard McCaughey is Chief Executive of Entekra Inc, a firm specializing in design, engineering and manufacturing of Fully Integrated Off Site Solutions™ (FIOSS™) for homebuilding industry. Mr. McCaughey previously co-founded Century Homes, Europe’s largest offsite building manufacturing company producing over 8000 house units annually, with five plants in Ireland and UK, which he sold in 2005 to Kingspan Group Plc. He is regarded in Europe as being one of the leading figures in off site construction and green building movement, and was at the forefront of regulatory reform in both Ireland and Britain. He has acted as an off site construction consultant in Eastern Europe, United States and South Africa and has spoken and written about green and offsite construction in many other countries around the world and is a previous winner of Ernst and Young’s, Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award and recognized by US Immigration Service as a "Person of Extraordinary Ability" in green and offsite construction.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-offsite-if-its-not-system-then-its-not-solution]

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