About the lab
Forest bioeconomy, business and sustainability-group, University of Helsinki
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Featured projects (1)
Featured research (10)
The forest sector can play a major role in the transformation to a sustainable bioeconomy, driven by climate change, population growth, and accelerated urbanization. However, in most contexts, the industrial wood construction markets, as a promising field for sustainable bioeconomy, are still at a niche level. The analysis in this study concerns the preferred future export markets for industrial wood construction for the Finnish wood construction industry, as viewed by a panel of industrial, policy and academic experts. The aim is to identify promising export markets for Finland, and to identify required pathways by 2030. A qualitative participatory backcasting method was applied to explore the future visions of the industrial wood construction (IWC) sector and its export markets, as well as the pathways from the current towards the envisioned future. Thirty-five experts formed a panel which produced five visions of the development of industrial wood construction sector exports from Finland, covering the period 2020–2030. All the visions foresaw that the domestic market needs to develop first, to build up the competencies needed to fuel the growth in the exports. Asia, particularly China with its rapidly growing markets, and Europe, with its growing sustainability awareness, commonly appeared as the most promising areas for export growth. The resulting visions differed in terms of export portfolios, varying from more traditional wood materials and products to product-service-solutions. The policy measures identified to accelerate the envisioned growth included harmonization of product and building standards and regulations in the Nordic region and beyond, developing the educational base, and using of digital solutions in building new networks and communication in the IWC sector.
So far, consumer housing values have not been addressed as factors affecting the market diffusion potential of multi-storey wood building (MSWB). To fill the void, this study addresses different types of consumer housing values in Denmark, Finland, Norway, and Sweden (i.e., Nordic region), and whether they affect the likelihood of prejudices against building with wood in the housing markets. The data collected in 2018 from 2191 consumers in the Nordic region were analyzed with exploratory factor analysis and logistic binary regression analysis. According to the results, consumersâ perceptions on ecological sustainability, material usage and urban lifestyle were similar in all countries, while country-specific differences were detected for perceptions on aesthetics and natural milieus. In all countries, appreciating urban lifestyle and living in attractive neighborhoods with good reputation increased the likelihood of prejudices against wood building, while appreciation of aesthetics and natural milieus decreased the likelihood of prejudices. In strengthening the demand for MSWB and sustainable urbanization through actions in businesses (e.g., branding) and via public policy support (e.g., land zoning), few messages derive from the results. In all, abreast with the already existing knowledge on the supply side factors (e.g., wood building innovations), more customized information is needed on the consumer-driven issues affecting the demand potential of MSWB in the housing markets. This would enable, e.g., both enhancing the supply of wooden homes for consumers appreciating urban lifestyle and neighborhoods and fortifying positive image of wood among consumers especially appreciating good architecture and pleasant environmental milieus.
Megaforces such as climate change, and market dynamics are impacting the development of product and service markets in the forest sector, driving renewal and reorientation. The University of Helsinki (UofH) has produced leading academic research, through global collaborations, on managing that transition by firms within the Nordic forest sector. To further understanding of how much and in what ways their research is aligned to forest sector developments, a case study was conducted assessing (1) the Nordic industrial forest context, (2) the corresponding research contributions and collaborations from 2014–2019, and (3) future research orientations. A conceptual lens of forest-value chain sustainability from the perspective of industrial competitiveness was applied. Research design included three questions for the aspects noted, investigated sequentially to triangulate and validate results. The results highlighted similarities and divergences between current and future research orientations and between researcher perspectives and the actions of incumbent forestry firms. Together, these indicate gaps in the ambition level required to support renewal in industrial competitiveness. Closing them will require a radical transformation, relying on proactive management and investment toward new product and service development, in order for forest industry firms to become champions in the circular and bioeconomy paradigms.
Having a home is a central part of the everyday consumer experience. In our study, we focus on Finnish homeowners who have recently bought an apartment in a multi‐family timber‐framed building. With its merits in sustainability, the number of timber buildings in less‐traditional urban applications is increasing, yet research on living in a wooden home is scarce. To fill this gap, the study analyses how homeowners perceive the wooden material before and after living in a wooden home for one year. Thus, besides the acquisition of a home, the study examines the consumers’ appropriation processes and aims to gain insight into the cultural sense‐making behind the appreciation of wooden homes. The results of this qualitative study indicate that traditions and memories related to wood affect consumers’ appreciations, for example, regarding the cosiness of a wooden home. The consumers discussed the weaknesses assigned to wood, such as fire and moisture susceptibility, yet they considered them to concern all construction materials, not only wood. After habitation for one year, the usability of the home becomes particularly relevant, including the ease with which shelves can be mounted onto the walls, enjoying the echoless soundscape, and living with clicking sounds and vibrating floors. The study suggests that the meanings of consumers’ daily experiences concerning the usability of wooden buildings are under negotiation and cannot be reduced simply into positive or negative but carry elements of both.
About Anne Toppinen
- My current research projects deal with sustainability transition and responsible business management in the emerging circular and bioeconomy, forest industry internationalization and investment strategies, and how forest bioeconomy competitiveness is affected by international environmental policies. Also modelling sustainable consumer behaviour and developing service businesses based on sustainable use of natural resources are among our ongoing research themes.