Domestic and overseas
companies gather to promote widespread use of mid- and
high-rise wooden buildings

HIDEKI NoseChair of the JIBH Steering Committee

Interview date: January 27, 2022

Enthusiastic interest evident at
“WOODRISE 2021 KYOTO” was held October 15–17, 2021 at the Kyoto International Conference Center. Though convened in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the energetic efforts of the Conference Secretariat and conference center personnel ensured that all infection control measures were thoroughly implemented during the event. The main overseas speakers participated online, but approximately 800 people from Japan and 17 other countries took part, of whom a surprisingly large number (518 people) attended in person. This reinforced my impression that many people around the world have an interest in the theme of mid- and high-rise wooden buildings.
One thing that particularly delighted me was the participation of many students.
Students who were prospective employees and others with an interest in construction came to the event and experienced the atmosphere of an international conference. It is my hope that some of these young people will go on to lead the way toward the further development of mid- and high-rise wooden buildings.
Development into the
At “WOODRISE 2021 KYOTO”, many prominent researchers and businesspeople gave excellent speeches and presentations concerning what each country is doing in the wooden building field. By adopting a hybrid online/on-site format, we were able to implement both the plenary sessions and the various technical workshops. The event went smoothly and featured a full range of content and lively exchanges of opinion.
Unfortunately, however, pandemic concerns prevented us from providing a physical space where participants could socialize. I believe that one of the most important functions of international conferences is fostering the exchange of opinions through face-to-face business discussions and social programs, as well as on-site inspection tours. The gathering of industry, academia, and government representatives should result in the generation of business opportunities, but we were unable to afford participants that benefit. Those from abroad were also unable to experience the atmosphere of our host city, Kyoto.
With this in mind, we have organized the “WOODRISE 2021 BUSINESS SESSION”, which will be held May 22–27, 2022, in Tokyo. B to B meetings, social events, technical tours, and other activities that could not be realized in Kyoto will be implemented in Tokyo, with the aim of deepening exchange among participants from Japan and abroad who have a connection with mid- and high-rise wooden buildings. Taking advantage of this opportunity for industry insiders from all over the world to meet in one place, we hope to provide a venue for a business-based exchange of opinions. We’re also planning technical tours to various locations that have connections with wooden structures, ranging from research centers to traditional shrines and temples. This will enable visitors from abroad to discover Japanese culture while directly experiencing Japanese wooden-structure technology.
Japan now plays an extensive role
I have attended every “WOODRISE” conference since the first one was held in Bordeaux, France in 2017. Initially, I was surprised that participating countries from Europe and North America had a greater interest in environmental issues than Japan.
They were focused on the use of timber, which is low in environmental impact, and on converting to wood buildings as ways to fight climate change.
Since then, sustainable development goals (SDGs) have permeated the international discourse. At the 26th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP26) held in Glasgow, UK, in November 2021, it was agreed that the international community would work to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. These efforts to realize a decarbonized society are likely to further accelerate in all countries of the world.
In Japan, the Act for Promotion of Use of Wood in Public Buildings was amended in October 2021. Its scope was expanded to include not only public buildings but buildings in general with the aim of realizing a decarbonized society. As inhabitants of one of the world’s most forested countries, Japan has developed a culture intimately connected with wood and has lived in and around wooden structures since ancient times. Therefore, I believe that Japan has an important role to play in the field of mid- and high-rise wooden buildings. Following the conferences held in Bordeaux, France, and in Quebec, Canada, the invitation to hold “WOODRISE” in Kyoto, where the Kyoto Protocol* was adopted, arose from these sentiments. * The Kyoto Protocol was adopted at the third Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP3) held at the Kyoto International Conference Center in 1997. It established legally binding, quantitative targets for greenhouse gasses emitted by economically advanced nations.
JIBH will continue to propose solutions to the world
I believe JIBH’s significance will only increase in the future. Many countries in the world are suffering housing shortages. In nations with a low standard of living, there is an increased need for inexpensive social housing. Within this context, Japanese construction technology, which enables high-quality homes to be built in short periods, will surely prove useful. One of JIBH’s roles is to promote exchange between such countries and Japan.
The times are changing. By processing and using wood, people have enjoyed the value offered by wood. And today, the need for the forest cycle as a sink for greenhouse gasses has led to a renewed recognition of the importance of reforestation. In addition, it has become necessary to make the amount of CO2 emitted from buildings visible as an effort towards achieving carbon neutrality. Progress is being made in reducing CO2 emissions from inhabited homes through the dissemination of highly energy-efficient housing, but further work must also be done in reducing CO2 emissions generated in the process of procuring, transporting, processing building materials, and construction itself.
The rapid rise in the cost of materials experienced in recent years has highlighted the issue of securing a stable supply of timber. This has made it necessary to develop new ways of stabilizing supply chains while exchanging information on a global scale.
As times change, JIBH will continue to share information with other countries concerning the issues that arise in the building and housing fields. Through opportunities afforded by events such as “WOODRISE”, we seek to contribute to the further development of the building and housing industry.