The five-storey block of flats achieved the PEFC Project Certification, which proves that the wood material of the building is legal and comes from sustainably managed forests.
There are only a few buildings with the PEFC Project Certification in the world. The lighthouse building at the Zaragoza 08 Expo in Spain became the first construction project anywhere in the world to be certified. The first residential project got the certification in London in 2014.
The initiative for the first Project Certification in the Nordic countries came from PEFC Finland. “The construction sector is very interested in the origin of wood. Awareness of its importance has also increased owing to the EU Timber Regulation against illegal timber, compliance with which can be monitored with help of the PEFC,” says Mr. Juha Uppa, Marketing Manager at PEFC Finland.
With the PEFC Project Chain of Custody certification, the legality and sustainability of individual construction projects can be assured. It is suitable for the certification of large residential buildings, public facilities or, for example, bridges and ships, as it enables ensuring the origin of wood even if all suppliers and subcontractors do not have monitoring systems of their own.
When the Lakea Oy company started to construct the Mäihä tower block in the Seinäjoki Housing Fair area, the project certificate required the company to verify the origin of all wood material to be used. Mr. Timo Mantila, managing director at Lakea Oy, says the certification helps to demonstrate the company’s reliability and responsibility. Mäihä is the fourth wooden block of flats built by the company.
“Projects using wood should be increased in Finland, because it increases accountability in construction,” says Mantila. “I have been told that the thousand cubic metres of wood used for Mäihä take less than a minute to grow in Finnish forests. This is a good illustration of how highly renewable wood is as material.”
PEFC is widely used in Finland
According to Mr. Auvo Kaivola, General Secretary of PEFC Finland, certified wood construction is well positioned in Finland. The majority of Finnish timber suppliers, such as hardware stores, have the Chain of Custody certification.
The requirements of the PEFC Certification are strict and some suppliers to Mäihä, for example, had to be replaced during the construction work. On the other hand, many large construction projects profit from the fact that many European manufacturers of prefabricated wooden elements already have the PEFC certificate.
The block of flats in Seinäjoki is built with PEFC-certified CLT (Cross Laminated Timber) elements from Stora Enso. The modules arriving to the construction site are complete down to their interior details. As a new product, Stora Enso is developing LVL, laminated veneer lumber, for structural applications, which it manufactures from Finnish wood in a new factory in Varkaus.
“Finland’s forests are very widely certified, but as regards the whole world, only 10 per cent of forests are certified. Still, 80 per cent of the wood we buy globally is from certified forests, and we encourage forest owners to apply for a certificate, too,” says Ms. Anna-Liisa Myllynen, Head of Global Responsibility at Stora Enso’s Wood Products Division.
Finnish Housing Fair is unique in the world
Finland’s first PEFC-certified block of flats can be visited at the Seinäjoki Housing Fair in July. The building is made of wood from the structural elements to the exterior and interior cladding. The five-storey building required a total of nearly one thousand cubic metres of timber.
“In fact, Mäihä is made entirely of wood,” says Mantila. He hopes that wooden tower block construction will receive more publicity through the Seinäjoki Housing Fair. He would be happy to see the high-quality and quick-to-install wooden elements as Finland’s next export success.
Mäihä is the only multi-storey block of flats at the Seinäjoki Housing Fair. The annual Housing Fair will be open for a month, and it is unique in the world. A complete residential area is built for each fair, with families first opening their houses to over 100,000 visitors and then moving in after the fair closes.