Quebec politicians have been talking about wood construction for years, but it was in France that a Quebec company contributed to the erection of a solid wood multi-storey parking lot, a first that is likely to happen again.
Chantier Chibougamau even wants to become the “Ikea” of construction: the company provides the plans and beams to the builders, and they can quickly assemble the structure.
This is how the French Forestarius, specializing in wooden constructions, proceeded to build a 3000-space parking lot in Dijon in a few months. “We assemble the structure like we assemble an Ikea shelf in our kitchen,” explains Forestarius president Thierry Coursin. “The quality of the wood worked in Chibougamau, we do not have it in France: the wood that we import has a density which allows more solid constructions”, he says.
Greener than steel
And Chantiers Chibougamau has the means to achieve its ambitions: the company says it can produce two to three parking lots like the one in Dijon every week.
The use of wood in commercial construction has several benefits. The construction is faster and the lightness of the structure drastically reduces the work of fitting out foundations for example. But it is above all for its environmental virtues that we are witnessing its renaissance in the commercial and institutional sector.
As the tree grows, it captures carbon dioxide, and when it is felled and turned into lumber, the wood in a building acts as a carbon sink. Its advantage is even greater when compared to steel and concrete, which produce huge amounts of greenhouse gases during their production.
This is also why France increasingly requires the use of wood in new constructions. It is this material that will be used to erect the Olympic village for the Paris Olympics in 2024. Meanwhile, Quebec is stalling, notes Frédéric Verreault, director of corporate development at Chantiers Chibougamau.
The company is not “bitter”, but it notes that the timber industry is stagnating in Quebec, while it wins contracts in Ontario, the United States and France, despite the speeches of elected Quebecois. . “No one is a prophet in his country,” he adds.
He also points out that Chantiers Chibougamau has already built nearly 200 forest bridges in Quebec, but that despite its requests, Quebec has not evaluated the possibility of using wood for civil engineering works. “Yet the technology is tested, seasoned, very competitive and fast. In less than a week, we can install a viaduct, ”he says.