Optimal humidity and energy savings for Honkarakenne

Nov 05, 2015

In 2012, Honkarakenne, a Finnish designer and manufacturer of log houses, decided to concentrate its production operations in Karstula.

The municipality of Karstula ensured Honkarakenne could continue  production locally by building production facilities and renting them to Honkarakenne.

“We enabled their business activities and provided production facilities for the purpose, leaving the company to concentrate on equipment investment and actual production,” states Marko Savola, manager of the municipality’s technical department.

In the new building, which totals about 5,000 square metres, glue-laminated timber (glulam) is processed and completed for use in house construction. Glulam is normally produced from six flawless planks glued together for strength. The result is timber used in the wall structures of wooden houses.

Energy panels keep heat and moisture in

The new building is not made of timber. According to managing director Juhani Koponen from PTS Kiinteistötekniikka who acted as a consultant for the construction project, the building would simply have been too massive if made of timber.

A total of 2,700 square metres of Ruukki Life energy panels have been installed on the building’s facade. Ruukki Life energy panels are sandwich panels, which have an insulation layer between two sheet layers. The mineral wool insulation in the panels is produced from recycled materials. Energy panels form an airtight wall structure that saves energy costs.

The dense walls save energy, but also balances the indoor climate.

“The humidity of the building should remain high and constant all year round – not to mention dry during the winter season. The airtightness of the walls keeps warmth and moisture inside, preventing them from escaping outside or into the structures,” Juhani Koponen emphasises.

Savola and Koponen say that the extra cost of the energy panels compared to ordinary panels is quite minimal. The extra investment in energy panels is rapidly recouped in energy savings.

Quick construction of production premises

A tight schedule was imposed on construction – and maintained from beginning to end. The choice of materials also supported the construction schedule: for example, the panels used in the wall are quick to install.

When Honkarakenne made the decision to concentrate its production operations in Karstula in the end of 2012, work began immediately on planning and designing the premises. Earthmoving began in May 2013 and the plot was connected to the mains water and sewer network. The building also features a highly-efficient water-based fire extinguishing system, an essential requirement in the wood industry. A topping-out party was held in September, and the building was completed in the end of 2013.

Obstacles overcome through planning

Every building project has its own potential obstacles blocking success. Juhani Koponen mentions that in this case they involved the roof and airtightness of the structure.

“How can rather large roof elements made from wood be brought seamlessly together with sandwich panels to achieve the intended airtightness,?” he asks. “In this case, it was achieved by precise design work.”

Mr. Savola also points out a challenge that was overcome: “A particular challenge in the project was that, instead of the original plan to build 4,000 square metres, we needed a 5,000 square-metre building to accommodate both production lines as well as a new line purchased from abroad. We succeeded. All-in-all, the project went very well and the customer has been happy with the facilities.”

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