WASHINGTON – Modular construction, using timber as a key element, is a credible solution to fast and sustainable house building, says Finnish lumber company, Metsä Wood. However, the lumber producer believes that more needs to be done in terms of sharing knowledge and innovation in wood construction to further advance the use of this material in mainstream construction.

To facilitate this process, Metsä Wood has launched its Open Source Wood initiative at www.opensourcewood.com. Metsä Wood’s executive vice-president, Esa Kaikkonen, explains: “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.”

Prefabricated wood elements enable fast, efficient and environmentally sound design without reducing quality, states Metsä Wood. Reports on the benefits of such a lean approach are compelling: In a study of companies that have applied lean construction methods, 84 per cent report higher quality in construction and 80 per cent experienced greater customer satisfaction. (1)

The report also highlights that almost 70 per cent of projects that used prefabricated elements had shorter schedules and 65 per cent had decreased budgets. Timber prefab construction also reduces other inconveniences such as the constant unloading of building materials, as well as the amount of on-site waste and the need to transport it.

Using new and innovative products like Metsä Wood’s Kerto® LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber), homes constructed offsite can be turned around in a matter of weeks, the company notes.

Despite signs of progress in timber prefab construction, more needs to be done to help house builders, developers and planners better realise the potential that modern wood products can offer, says Metsä Wood. It is hoped that the Open Source Wood project will help to highlight some of the innovative projects taking place across the globe and, through a collaborative approach, bring timber construction methods to the forefront of new house building.

(1) McGraw Hill Construction, “Prefabrication and Modularization – Increasing Productivity in the Construction Industry,” McGraw Hill Construction, Bedford, 2011