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Performance standards for wood in construction - delivering customer service life needs

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Facts about wood

An EU study studied the performance properties, including service life, of wood as a construction material. A re-analysis of historical data, with new testing, introduces new standards, enabling greater usage of this sustainable resource.

Industrial Technologies

Although an ancient construction material, wood remains an attractive option, having desirable physical and environmental properties, plus the potential to become truly sustainable. However, the lack of precise performance data is an obstacle to increased use of wood in construction. The EU-funded 'Performance standards for wood in construction - Delivering customer service life needs' (PERFORMWOOD) project aimed to assist. The goal was to initiate the development of standards related to the service life and other properties of wood as a construction material. Methods involved reanalysing historical data, especially in terms of material resistance, moisture risk and decay expectations. The data were compared with performance expectations obtained from user groups. Hence, the project aimed to retest the material using revised protocols, and to propose a new CEN/TC38 standard. The eight-member consortium ran between September 2012 and February 2014. The group met all its objectives, including the documentation of wood's key properties and the evolution of relevant standards. Main achievements included building a European consensus on developing current standards into a more suitable form, and creating a roadmap for adoption of the standards. The project secured the adoption of material resistance as the standard's key durability parameter, and gathered new data on typical reference products and service expectations. Team members compiled a data set reflecting laboratory testing of wood's wetting ability. The work also yielded refined knowledge about applicable statistical methods, and predictions of wood's performance considering climate. Dissemination work reached over half a million people in 39 countries, in conjunction with the InnovaWood group of projects. Activities included workshops, industry events and conferences, plus a variety of publications and press releases. The PERFORMWOOD project achieved its goal of developing a new performance standard for wood as a building material. The work offers numerous economic and environmental benefits, including enhancing the demand for sustainably produced materials.

Keywords

Wood, service life, construction, sustainable resource, performance standards

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