The overall aim of this study has been to examine the factors affecting the market potential of wood construction in Europe. The work has provided information for strategic decision-making in the private and public sectors, as well as contributed to the forest economics and sectoral analysis literature by discussing the validity of the methodological approaches for long-term outlook studies. The results provide an understanding on the wood products industry development and wood construction markets that have remained scarcely studied. The following summarises the main findings of the study.

The structure and culture dependence of construction implies that the market potential in Europe varies by region and by sub-sector. In a business-as-usual scenario, the market potential in terms of growth rate remains to a large extent in novel markets such as in multi-storey and additional storey construction and façade renovation. In terms of growth volume, the largest market potential appears to be in the detached house markets and renovation in Central Europe. In Southern Europe, it may be unrealistic to assume wood construction diffusion, especially in the established markets, other than for example in projects requiring earth quake resistance or lightweight materials. In these regions, it may be more realistic to assume changes in favour of wood in a time scale exceeding 2030, when the definition of wood construction may be changing, plausibly towards the use of wood fibres or wood-based compounds as binding agents for concrete in 3D-printing and other similar applications. The differences in the framework conditions suggest that also the long-term targets of the industries need to be region and sub-sector specific for them to be properly assessed and for specific actors to assume liability for actions.

The inertia for the diffusion of wood construction in Europe stems not only from the characteristics of the construction industry, but also from the fragmented structure of the wood products industry and the cautious nature of the strategic orientations. Taking more responsibility in the construction value chain could significantly aid the diffusion, yet this strategic orientation was deemed the least attractive. A similar tension seems to arise from the options for the regulatory push for green building. That is, while policy measures based on competition and information dissemination were seen to yield more credible solutions than norms favouring the use of wood, they could be expected to have influence only in the very long run. Only stricter norms based on functional requirements and fiscal measures would seem to be able to effectively contribute to the diffusion of green building in an acceptable time frame, yet they would probably face strong lobbying, due to the large short-term costs accruing to the established industries.

In summary, wood construction would seem to be technically and economically competitive against the established construction practices. Notwithstanding, the results point to the conclusion that the diffusion of wood construction in Europe will be a gradual process, subject to significant inertia and restricted to a few niche sub-sectors and regions towards 2030, unless more restrictive environmental norms are introduced.

Main outcome can be downloaded here:  Hurmekoski E. Long-term outlook for wood construction in Europe . (Last visited 17.04.2018)

The research was funded by the Foundation for European Forest Research (FEFR), Metsämiesten Säätiö Foundation and the Finnish Forest Foundation.

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elias.hurmekoski @
European Forest Institute
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