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Public construction using wood is becoming more common in Finland, as is the use of weather shelters as part of humidity management during construction. The municipality of Kuortane also demanded weather protection for the construction of the new Alvari wooden school, which was designed and implemented by Telinekataja. “As builders’ expertise in moisture management increases, the quality of construction improves,” says Marko Kilpeläinen, Head of Safety and Environment at Peab Oy the builder of the Alvari school.
The Finnish State has been promoting wood construction for years. In autumn 2020, the Government announced its climate change mitigation targets: a wood construction 45% market share for all new public construction in 2025. By the middle of the decade, 55% of educational buildings should be built from wood. More and more schools and kindergartens are already being built from wood, and almost without exception under a weather shelter.
“Especially in wood construction, weather protection plays an important role in moisture management during the construction process,” says Kilpeläinen.
Peab and Telinekataja have a long history together. “The severe weather changes in recent years, as well as mild and humid winters, have further increased the need for weather protection. Together with Telinekataja, we share scaffolding and weather shelters in different parts of Finland,” says Kilpeläinen.
Humidity control plays a big role at every Peab site. Weekly humidity control rounds on a construction basis and external humidity control coordinators ensure that all moisture control tasks have been carried out with care.
“For both scaffolding and Peab, safety is number one. Humidity management and environmental issues, such as avoiding material waste and recycling, are also strictly integrated into Peab’s strategy. The better these things are managed, the larger the saved amount of euros is,” says Kilpeläinen.
“For example, choosing Telinekataja as the supplier is not just a price issue. The quality of operations is of great importance.
The construction of the new Alvari primary school started in spring, 2020, in the centre of Kuortane, Southern Ostrobothnia. The estimated cost of the school, which will be completed at the beginning of the autumn term of 2021, is EUR 5.5 million. The site of the 2000 m2 school, built from wooden CLT elements was protected from weather and moisture, immediately after the foundation was cast. During the design phase, the scaffolding caterer presented several different protection options. A version was selected for installation, in which the crane can also be operated under the weather protection.
“The weather protection area is 3350 m2 in total, and the span is 45 metres. The KH XL weather cover, installed during good weather in August 2020, is above average in relation to the size of the school, also enabling the installation and lifting work to be carried out under it,” says Mauri Väliaho, Work Manager at Telinekataja.
According to Peab’s Kilpeläinen, everyday life situations are solved with one phone call with a reliable, familiar scaffolding and weather protection partner. Every year, Peab and Telinekataja also conduct broader site reviews, in which successes and items that need development are inspected. In November 2020, the site of the Alvari wooden school was chosen as the focus of the review, where a joint discussion is conducted to see what could be further improved in future sites.
“We review the feedback in terms of quality and safety, starting with the operation of the installers, up to the technical solutions of the scaffolding and weather shelters. Next, Telinekataja reviews its own work and the way it provides information, deploying the improvements at construction sites,” says Kilpeläinen.
“If, for example, the material is fraying in the wind, different materials will be used, or they will be tied differently in the future,” says Väliaho of Telinekataja, as an example of improving safety practices.
According to a study commissioned by Peab in 2018, Finns do not trust the quality of construction and builders. 88% of the study participants believed that moisture management is the biggest challenge facing the construction industry. Peab decided to invite the entire industry to join us in solving the reputational problem. The joint eMoisture training, for all construction professionals, was created when the 14 largest construction companies operating in Finland and Rakennusteollisuus (Construction Industry) joined forces.
“Since the end of September 2020, everyone at Peab, starting with the real estate agents, has completed the 10-module eMoisture training. All construction labourers and subcontractors will also be familiarised with moisture management as a part of safety and quality,” Kilpeläinen says.
“When the Alvari school received a load of girders that could not be immediately installed, the employees automatically started to protect them with the lightweight cover,” Kilpeläinen says, as a practical example.
The occupational safety card has been a basic requirement in the field. Peab believes that eMoisture will become at least as strong a display of construction professionalism. “The aim is to take humidity management as seriously as occupational safety.