I recall when I first came into the trade fair business at a local fair organizer. During my first year at the company, a new fair hall was built, and it was built completely of wood. Glulam beams and wood panels. Many thought that, as it was a hall that many people would visit, it was for aesthetic reasons that wood was chosen. But it wasn’t, it was for cost reasons. The insurance fee was so much lower for a wooden hall than a similar one in concrete or steel.
Firefighters have a time limit on how long they are allowed to stay in a burning building before they must evacuate. That time frame is much longer in a wooden building as wood construction doesn’t collapse as easily as e.g., steel or concrete. To me, this seemed to be a golden opportunity for the wood business. Ok, this was a fair hall, but a warehouse or an industry building looks quite similar, so …
I wish life was that easy. Apart from some sawmills that wanted to make a point, few industry or warehouse buildings in Sweden are made of wood. It’s an enigma to me.
At last – some good news
South of the town where I live, there is an industrial area that grows every year. As the area is located along the main highway, no one could miss that a giant step is being taken there right now. Over 100 hectares of forest land have been felled and now new warehouses and industries are erecting rapidly. All in steel and concrete – except one.
This sight is so unusual that I must confess I had to look twice to see what it was. A wooden frame of a warehouse. Even though it’s only one of the hundreds of new warehouses in this area, it feels good for an old forestry guy like me.
One of the Nordic region’s largest warehouses
“Glulam was the obvious choice” according to a press release from the developer Catena. It’s demanding sustainability requirements that have led to the choice of wood instead of other materials in the frame. It’s all about minimizing the carbon footprint.
The warehouse, which will host the Nordic electronics superstore Elgiganten, will be 86.600 square meters, or 8,6 hectares big. Over 500 glulam beams, 24 meters long and 2 meters high will form the frame of the building.
A small step
Maybe one shouldn’t get too excited about this. It’s a drop in the ocean. But you must start somewhere and if this project leads to that one other developer choosing wood for a similar building … well, it’s one step at a time. Wood is good for the environment as it stores carbon dioxide for a long time. If only we could get more people to understand that.
This project is also good as it is visible from one of the main highways in South Sweden. Tens of thousands of people see it every day as they pass on the highway. Let’s hope it makes some of them start thinking.