The International Wood Forum took place in Lille in 2023The rationale and evidence backing bio-based construction was explored during the forum which consisted of numerous workshops delving into the why and how of biosourced construction in Europe. Building and designing with minimally processed wood, high-performance biosourced housing, fire safety in timber construction, European visions on frugal architecture, the reconstruction of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which is scheduled to reopen in 2024 following a fire outbreak, and many other topics were covered.

The Luxembourg Wood Cluster, alongside interprofessional wood federation FIBOIS Grand-Est, delivered a presentation at one of the workshops on the role of interregional cooperation to boost innovation in timber and biosourced construction in the Greater Region.

Wood as a sustainable building material

“Wood-based construction and innovative buildings using biobased materials are in everyone’s best interests, therefore it’s not surprising that the primary topics covered at the International Wood Construction Forum in Lille centred on bio-based construction. Cross-border cooperation and innovation in the Greater Region have the potential to strengthen regional wood markets, promote circular systems that enable a resilient and dependable supply of biomaterials from regional sources, and support innovation and economic development through Industry 4.0 tools, as demonstrated by various interregional projects,” says Ralf Köhler, Wood Cluster Manager at Luxinnovation.

Wood as a sustainable building material has been proven to have substantial environmental benefits as it fully renewable and can store carbon in the long term. Wood biomass can also function as a renewable energy source among other benefits. The increased usage of wood in construction was underscored during the recent wood sector forum for Latvian and Luxembourg companies and by Luxembourg Minister for Energy and Minister for Spatial Planning, Claude Turmes, who took part in the International Wood Construction Forum in Nancy last year.

The Luxembourg Wood Cluster organised a bus trip to Lille, the venue of this year’s forum, with representatives from Luxinnovation, the public building administration office Administration des bâtiments publics, real estate developer IKO Real Estate, and engineering group SGI Ingénierie.

Biosourced construction and cross-border cooperation in the Greater Region

“We had really positive feedback from the European side and constructive discussions about the bioeconomy and various ongoing and prospective European efforts and projects to stimulate cross-border collaboration and value-chains for improved and sustainable wood and forest management and innovation in the Greater-Region,” says Mr Köhler.

A few examples of interregional activities in the wood industry include the e-Holzhaff digital marketplace, which connects supply and demand in the wood industry and in which Luxinnovation played a lead role, and the cross laminated timber innovation hub initiative, which supports innovation for modular and circular construction, the establishment of a hardwood-production line in structural timber construction, and a digital bioresources material register in the planning and construction sector.

Building interregional synergies at the FBC in Lille“A key area that we have been looking at in the context of Luxembourg is how to bridge the wood gap that exists between our wood production and consumption quotas in a sustainable way, and this is an area where interregional synergies can play a determining role, and also in interregional business development, because the wood value chain has an interregional scope,” adds Mr Köhler.

Interregional activities and European collaboration

During the workshop, Mr Köhler and Fibois Grand-Est representative, Thibaud Surini, discussed several ongoing and future Interreg Europe projects financed by the EU to encourage cross-border and regional solutions. For example, the ProfileWood project between 2016 and 2020 aimed to create new market prospects for transregional wood species. The Wood Added Value Enablers (W.A.V.E.) project scheduled for the 2024 to 2026 period under the Interreg scheme aims to accelerate the transition to the circular economy and promote a more efficient use of natural resources. Luxinnovation and the Luxembourg Wood Cluster are two of the project’s 13 operational partners.

“The four work packages of the project include the development of wood construction, the support of companies in transition, the promotion of cooperation among wood actors, and a better understanding of forest resources. Luxembourg can play a leading role as a driver of innovation and digital transformation of companies, including those in the wood sector,” says Mr Köhler.

Photo: Luxinnovation

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