Pure naturalness! Wood at the forefront of energy efficiency

Vibrant, light, versatile, durable, aesthetic, robust – the list of the advantages of wood as a material in interior design or construction is endless. As one of the most environmentally friendly materials, wood has made a new comeback and the boom is still going on.

Today, “back to nature” is a common motto in all industries and a continuously growing lifestyle in our society. Companies are focusing on environmental issues more than ever. And more and more people are rethinking their consumption behavior and are becoming more aware of what they eat, where their clothes come from or which materials their home decoration consists of. No other construction material can meet this wish for naturalness more than wood. But it is not only the material itself: Wooden elements give rooms and buildings a sense of warmth, friendliness and coziness. On top of that, wood offers timeless elegance and aesthetics. In the coatings industry, this is reflected in the development of low-gloss coatings that create the most natural look. Water-based UV curing varnishes and zero VOC enamels are among the most popular products in the wood coatings segment for industrial applications.

Sustainable protection of a sustainable material

Wood is at the top of the list of sustainable construction materials, offering so many advantages simultaneously: It is a renewable resource with sufficient strength and is flexible, workable, affordable, available and has a high aesthetic value. Against the backdrop of climate change, wood construction is one of the most efficient ways to reduce our carbon footprint in the long run. In addition to all these advantages, the material opens up many possibilities for design, creativity and architectural freedom.

Supporting these advantages, emphasizing the beauty of wood and improving its UV resistance are the main responsibilities of wood coatings. For the protection of exterior constructions, the extension of the coatings’ durability is one of the biggest goals. And, above all, the required coating restoration periods have to be as long, simple and inexpensive as possible. Naturally, sustainable materials need a sustainable protection. Wood coating manufacturers strive to ensure that the production, use and disposal of wood treated with coatings do not adversely affect the environment, consumers or manufacturers.

In the DIY segment, the increased market share of drying oils and waxes in recent years also reflects a growing concern for the environment. Like wood, waxes and oils can be obtained directly from nature and require no further chemical treatment, which reduces the environmental impact. Furthermore, the call for water-based coatings and coatings made out of natural (bio-based) raw materials is getting louder.

But it is not only about environmentally friendly products, it is also about the whole production process and the supply chain – starting with the choice of raw materials of natural origin from renewable sources and biodegradable products. It is also about increasing energy efficiency and a sustainable development approach.

Considering how a coating affects the product life cycle is the first step in using wood coatings, which facilitate a circular economy. A product must be recyclable when it reaches the end of its useful life. IKEA, for example, is committed to becoming “climate positive” by 2030. This means that the company will eliminate more greenhouse gases (GHG) than they produce in their production processes. Product sustainability, biodegradable raw materials, reduced energy consumption during production, the recycling of products and wood coatings that enable these processes will play an important role in achieving this goal.

Slovenia’s wood industry on the rise

Slovenia is a land of forests and wood. There is a growing interest in environmentally friendly, sustainable and aesthetically superior constructions made of wood. Whether we look at a solid wood building or a prefabricated building with a solid wood structure, wooden skeletal or frame structure, wood is an excellent basis for the best living environment – thanks to its outstanding chemical and physical properties in combination with a huge mass.

The use of wood is included in Slovenia’s industrial strategy. Furthermore, it is strongly supported by the EU leadership. Last summer, an amendment to the Green Public Procurement policy was adopted in relation to wood processing. According to this policy, at least 30% of wood or wood products have to be included in the design and construction of public interest architecture, with few exceptions. The regulation has been successfully adopted in practice, as it has created conditions for the construction of many wooden kindergartens, schools and other public buildings. Due to its energy efficiency in terms of material and technology, wood construction takes a leading role in quality, nearly zero-energy construction – not only in Slovenia but worldwide.