Knock on wood

Last changed: 19 May 2021
A wooden multistory building. The photo is taken close to the foot of the building looking up.

Wooden multi-story construction (WMC) has strong potential to satisfy diverse housing needs of urban consumers, enhance promotion of climate-wise construction within municipalities, and boost competitiveness of the companies in the forestry-wood value-chains. Despite this, WMC market diffusion of WMC has been relatively slow both in Finland and Sweden. KnockOnWood project is especially seeking for solutions to support the development of WMC in Finland and Sweden. However, the results may bring valuable insights also for other countries with similar market conditions.


Logo of LUKELogo of the University of Helsinki


KnockOnWood project implementation

The purpose of the KnockOnWood project is to provide systemic information on how housing demand, housing supply and local governance mechanisms affect the WMC market diffusion. In addition, sustainability is an overreaching theme in the KnockOnWood project implementation, since ecological, social, and economic aspects strongly connect to WMC through aims on, e.g., sustainable construction, housing and urbanization.

The practical research work is carried out through analysis of comparative qualitative and quantitative data collected in Finland and Sweden in three work packages (WP). WP1 relates to consumer housing expectations (i.e., housing demand), WP2 to company strategies (i.e., housing supply), and WP3 to municipality governance (i.e., local governance mechanisms).

The specific questions to be answered in each of the WPs are as follows:

WP1: What factors affect customers’ preferences when choosing a home in multi-story house, including the significance of the perceived sustainability aspects of WMC apartments?

WP2: How can company strategies advance a sustainability transition in residential construction based on carbon storage and substitution benefits, and increased value creation in WMC?

WP3: Which factors in the municipal governance explain the level of support to the adoption of WMC and the effectiveness and legitimacy of the carbon-neutrality strategies?

Like illustrated in Figure below, the three WPs address different, but inter-connected aspects of the WMC development in Finland and Sweden. By synthesizing findings of the three WPs, key barriers and enabling factors for positive WMC market development will be identified. The results will benefit the WMC development initiatives both in Finland and Sweden, but also in other countries with similar market conditions.

 

This illustration shows a framework of the study. It is a large circle that represents Forest – sustainable FOREST MANAGEMENT and wood supply. Inside this large circle is a slightly smaller circle that represents MARKETS  for wood products in terms of the wood industry supply for construction. This is the focus for the study, and it is divided in three work packages, that are represented in three circles inside the markets circle.  The three Work Packages address different aspects of the wood and construction industry markets (WP1 on consumers, WP2 on companies, and WP3 on municipalities).  Each of them represent an empirical study that is carried out in Finland and Sweden respectively. Each of these work packages are interconnected by sustainability objectives. The figure shows their interlinkages, and connections with sustainability goals, and the broader forestry-wood industry value chain (outer circle).

Figure. Synthesizing understanding on the WMC market diffusion barriers and enabling factors in Finland and Sweden through knowledge on consumers, companies and municipalities.

The entire research project (Figure 1) is implemented in a collaborative and synchronized way. By doing this, the project serves to create a nuanced understanding of issues studied in each WP and enables better integration of consumers’ and municipalities’ perspectives on housing in the WMC value chain. This supports the building of successful strategies for production and marketing of quality wooden homes for the future citizens of Finland and Sweden. Growth of the WMC market creates competitive growth for the forest sector, too.

Overall purpose of the project

This research project aims to contribute to the sustainability transition of the Nordic construction sector towards low-carbon, socially and environmentally sound technologies with an increased role for wood-based residential solutions, i.e. WMC. The study involves consumers, the WMC sector and municipalities – and explores how their interaction can create increased customer value and act as a catalyst for a more sustainable, low-carbon housing sector. This is important as previous research on the WMC markets has only focused on one or a few actor categories at a time.

In order to transform the established modes of operating in multi-storey construction towards higher share of WMC flats, and a more effective integration of climate policy goals and UN SDGs in the industrial strategies, the barriers and the opportunities in the entire forestry-wood construction value chain need to be identified and addressed. This includes working with the business actors (wood material producers, contractors, building developers), the consumers, and municipalities. All these components are addressed in the project through three strongly inter-connected work packages (WPs) described in more detail in the next section.

The main research objective is to identify effective means to transform WMC from a niche player to the main solution in providing sustainable, low-carbon housing for the growing urban populations, through an in-depth understanding of the roles and value creation by the consumers, companies and municipalities. Under this objective, the following research questions for each of the three WPs will be addressed:

WP1: What factors affect customers’ preferences when choosing a flat to live in, including the significance of the perceived sustainability aspects of WMC flats (e.g. carbon storage and substitution)?

WP2: How can company strategies advance a sustainability transition in residential construction based on carbon storage and substitution benefits, and increased value creation in WMC?

WP3: Which factors in the municipal governance explain the level of support to the adoption of WMC and the effectiveness and legitimacy of the carbon-neutrality strategies?

The findings from the sub-studies will be synthesized to establish a thorough understanding of the key factors in consumers’ preferences, companies’ strategies and municipal strategies that promote – and impede – positive market development for the WMC sector, and the associated climate benefits (carbon storage and substitution) and overall sustainability transition in the construction sector.

Project news

Facts:

Advisory Board

Time frame

2020-2022 (+ a possible extension due to Covid 19 effects)

Funded by Formas (SWE) and Ministry of Environment (FIN).


Contact

Project leaders and primary contacts

Portrait photo of Anders RoosAnders Roos, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Professor in Business Administration with a focus on forest based supply chains’ sustainability and efficiency, operations management, business development and global forest issues - policies and livelihoods. 

Email: anders.roos@slu.se

ORCID

Photographer: Hanna Roos

Portrait photo of Ritva ToivonenRitva Toivonen, University of Helsinki

Ritva Toivonen, Dean, Faculty of Agriculture and Forestry, University of Helsinki, Docent (Forest Economics and Marketing). Ritva Toivonen’s research interests are in sustainable markets and marketing of forest products, and business in sustainable wood construction. She has led/participated in research projects on wood construction such as www.woodenliving.net. In the Tandem Know project, she acts as the project leader and her research focuses particularly consumer behavior.

Email: ritva.toivonen@helsinki.fi

Twitter: @ritvatoivonen

Photographer: Veikko Somerpuro

Additional participants

Portrait photo of Elias Hurmenkosti

Elias Hurmekoski, University of Helsinki

Finnish Academy postdoctoral research fellow at the Department of Forest Sciences. His research interests relate to wood construction, forest-based industries, forest sector foresight, and the climate impacts of the forest sector.

ORCID

Photographer: Kimmo Haapala

Portrait photo of Liina Häyrinen Liina Häyrinen, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)

Postdoctoral researcher with a background in forest-based business economics and marketing. Research has focused on e.g. business ecosystems of wooden multi-story construction, family forest owners and their forestry service needs, and citizens’ nature and forest relationships.

Email: liina.hayrinen@luke.fi

GoogleScholar

Photographer: Jaakko Kinnari

 

Portrait photo of Kalle ViiraJaakko Jussila, University of Helsinki

Researcher in University of Helsinki and a PhD student. End-user approach to development of wood-based construction sector, with focus on wooden multi-storey buildings, role of institutions in construction, drivers and barriers for the industry development. Thesis on progress within theme: views on detached homebuilders and prefabricated housing industry.

Email: jaakko.a.jussila@helsinki.fi

Photographer: Kalle Viira

Portrait photo of Katja LahtinenKatja Lähtinen, Natural Resources Institute Finland (LUKE)

Katja Lähtinen is a research professor in business economics at Natural Resources Institute Finland (Luke) with experience on the strategic management in the forest-based sector. Connected to the wood construction, she has addressed, e.g., the role of urban planning and consumer expectations to develop businesses and enhance sustainable urbanization.

Email: katja.lahtinen@luke.fi

Twitter: @KatjaLaehtinen

Orcid

GoogleScholar

Photographer: Timo Roschier

Portrait photo of Cecilia Mark-HerbertCecilia Mark-Herbert, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Cecilia Mark-Herbert works as a researcher and senior lecturer in marketing and environmental management. She shows particular interest in food and fiber industry issues related CR, Corporate Responsibility.

E-mail: cecilia.mark-herbert@slu.se

ORCID

Photographer: Roger Herbert

Portrait photo of Emil NagyEmil Nagy, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU)

Emil Nagy is a PhD Student at the department of Forest Economics. His interest lies in the research of sustainability transitions in the housing market and the multi-storey building enterprises market strategies. He has a background in the forest industry and has an MSc in forestry from SLU. 

E-mail: emil.nagy@slu.se

Photographer: Emil Nagy

Anne Toppinen

Anne Toppinen, University of Helsinki

Anne Toppinen has worked since 2008 as Professor of forest economics and business at University of Helsinki and leads multidisciplinary sustainability science community (HELSUS). She has led several national projects on wood construction such as www.woodenliving.net.

Email: anne.toppinen@helsinki.fi

GoogleScholar

Twitter: @annetoppinen

Orcid

Photographer: Veikko Somerpuro

Page editor: mona.bonta.bergman@slu.se