Good architecture, good living main themes of modern Finnish wood building

Combining architecture and design with modern, environmentally friendly and energy efficient building is emerging as the main theme of Finnish wood building. –We are known for our forests, architecture and high-quality design, and we could now combine all those in wood building, says Mr. Sixten Sunabacka, Director of the Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector under the Ministry of the Employment and the Economy.

Wood building may well take the lead role in the renewal of our forest sector. Modern wood building and wood products have the potential to create concrete images for Finns of the many possibilities of our renewable natural resource. These images may then be expanded into other wood fibre materials such as intelligent packaging and various composites including wood. This development also enables totally new kinds of production and service operations.

The Ministry of Employment and the Economy has launched a National Wood Construction Programme that aims at promoting wood building in both Finland and the EU. Sixten Sunabacka, who leads the Strategic Programme for the Forest Sector, thinks that environmental matters are discussed more in European building than they are in Finland. A key goal of the National Wood Construction Programme is to increase the use of wood in building and in various other aspects of living, to renew building regulations in a more energy efficient direction, and to use wood in carrying out energy projects, supplementary building projects, and building of additional floors to concrete apartment buildings from the 1970’s.

- We need to create an overall solution to Finnish wood building, one where good architecture and design are combined with building, one which will then be known as a Finnish brand. To be able to reach the climate goals, there is a worldwide demand for using renewable materials such as wood. We would also like to promote wood building with a new regulation on energy efficiency and material efficiency in building. We have the ability to become a world pioneer in environmentally friendly building, as we have plenty of expertise in these fields, says Sunabacka.

-The aim is to raise wood use to a whole new level as a renewable building material and a natural resource. Wood can be used in energy production, and new ways of using wood as wood composites will be combined with concrete measures necessitated by climate change. As storms and floods become part of everyday life, the search for new ways to control climate change and its effects will intensify. Ecological building is one of those ways, Sunabacka states.

Export of processed wood products increasing

The consultative committee of the National Wood Construction Programme set a goal to increase the share of apartment buildings built using wood to 10 % during this government term, explains Development Manager Markku Karjalainen from the National Wood Construction Programme. Finland is second to Spain in Europe in the number of apartment buildings per capita, with roughly 56,000. At the moment, wood has a market share of less than 1 % in new buildings with more than two floors. In Sweden the number is approximately 20 %.

For Karjalainen, the main goals of the National Wood Construction Programme are: starting wood building projects, creating a client-oriented brand for wood apartment buildings, and renewing building regulations on the basis of material efficiency and carbon footprint. In addition, using wood in energy building and supplementary building of old apartment buildings, the introduction of an open wood element standard in the building of wood apartment buildings, and updating education on wood building in Finland are all included in the programme.

 - For a long time, no progress was made in promoting wood building in Finland. Now the aim is to double the export of wood products and processed wood during this government term from the current 0.5 billion Euro per year. What is most important here is the upward trend, says Sunabacka, as the European finance crisis sets such great challenges to any major leaps in export. The current lobbying of the wood industry in the EU is based on a memorandum drafted in the Ministry for Foreign Affairs under the previous government. We have suggested to the OECD, among others, that a study be commissioned on the climatic effect of various building materials. We do not push these goals as purely Finnish projects, but are trying to get other countries to join Finland in developing the wood industry together.

Sixten Sunabacka believes Finland has the ability to be a world pioneer in wood building when combining quality building with Finnish architecture and design, and using this combination to build beautiful, cozy and comfortable living environments.

Written by Markku Laukkanen, Finnish Timber Council

Translated by Kielipalvelu Kauriin Kääntöpiiri OY / Capricorn Translations Ltd.

Further information:

Sixten Sunabacka, Strategic Director, tel: +358 10 60 63562,



Markku Karjalainen, Development Director, tel: +358 40 5832127,