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Some 150 wood lovers gathered on 21 March – the International Day of Forests – at the Kulturhaus in Mersch for Luxembourg’s first ever Wood Cluster Forum. The afternoon of presentations and talks revealed the importance and value of wood to Luxembourg’s ecosystem.

Opening the event, the Luxembourg Wood Cluster’s president, René Witry, briefly recalled the work done over the past year, highlighting valuable efforts made by members of working groups. He also presented concrete proposals that the cluster intends to follow through within the short term: a study about a potential ‘Holzhaff’ (‘House of Wood’) and the creation of a ‘wood’ database.

Inspiring speeches

Following this introduction, three experts gave ‘Inspiring speeches’ on some innovative approaches that have been adapted in Europe. HolzCluster Bayern director Stefan Torno gave a review of the new technology available for using hardwood in construction. The Luxembourg Wood Cluster is also working alongside HolzCluster Bayern to produce awareness-raising documents. The first brochure on the use of hardwood in construction was presented to participants in this forum.

Next, Holz von Hier CEO Philipp Strohmeier unveiled a fascinating platform that showcases regional wood products and reveals the benefits of using ‘local’ wood. The Luxembourg Wood Cluster is also in early talks with the leaders of Holz von Hier about the possible establishment of such a platform in Luxembourg.

Finally, FCBA Director Innovation & Research, Andreas Kleinschmit von Lengefeld, and Innovawood Secretary General, Uwe Kies, gave a summary of Europe-based wood innovation networks. The Luxembourg Wood Cluster is in the process of joining these networks to ensure that its members are up to date with the latest technical developments in the sector.

Local wood pitching session

The second part of the Wood Cluster Forum was dedicated to a series of ten-minute ‘local wood pitching sessions’ by Luxembourg companies. Alois Annen, the CEO of 2017 “Prix de l’innovation dans l’artisanat “(Prize for innovation in craftwork) prizewinner, Annen Plus , introduced his new beechwood assembly and construction system currently being building which is under construction in Manternach.

Mr Annen pointed out how innovation in SMEs and risk-taking were two essential components when it came to growing a business.

With figures to back up his claims, CEO Laurent Nilles then showed how, contrary to popular belief, wood is not a luxury building material reserved for the elite, but is on a par with materials such as concrete. The example presented related to the extension of Luxair’s administrative building.

Mr Nilles mentioned the idea of ​​setting up a financial incentive scheme for wood use, citing the example of the city of Munich, which grants a bonus for timber construction in the amount of 30 cents per kg of CO2 stored in wood products.

Finally, executive committee member of architectural and planning firm Witry & Witry, Pit Kuffer, presented some new technologies relating to building life cycles. Wood plays a key role in terms of CO2 and energy storage, as well as in the context of developing circular economy principles.

Political reflection

This first Wood Cluster Forum ended on a political note, with concluding remarks made by Secretary of State for Sustainable Development, Camille Gira. He recalled the valuable work done in recent years throughout the timber industry, stressing the importance of the regional and Greater Region aspects.

He also mentioned the ongoing drafting of a ‘Leitfaden’ (guide) for public procurement. As for the idea of a ‘CO2 storage’ bonus in timber construction, he said it is a concept that will be explored.

The afternoon concluded with the participants networking and enjoying lively debate over cocktails. Luxinnovation also took the opportunity to present its brand new Luxembourg Wood Cluster brochure.

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