LB-Hus: Advancing Sustainable Timber Housing Solutions for a Greener Future

Sustainable structures

The range of prefabricated timber structures produced by LB-Hus meets the need to make housing more energy efficient

Originally formed by Lennart Bengtsson and located in Sweden, LBHus celebrated its 50th year of existence in 2007. Today, the business is a leading manufacturer of structural timber housing panels in a variety of styles, to clients operating across Europe. LB-Hus provides prefabricated housing solutions to the modern construction industry, primarily made from insulated structural timber frame panels with an external vented cavity, and either brick, timber or cementitious cladding features.

“Our founder started by operating in the construction industry, and he had some interesting ideas about manufacturing timber frames structures off-site,” states Jonas Larsson, senior vice president of LBHus. “This is where the business began: today, around the world, and especially in the UK, this off-site manufacturing process is still being used. We have developed the concept further, and now our modern products are closed-panel systems that have windows and doors pre-installed, which means the whole construction process only takes a couple of days before the house is ready externally.

“LB-Hus has delivered close to 45,000 housing units since its inception, with approximately ten per cent of business built on exports, mainly to Germany and Holland,” Jonas continues. “Our main export markets today are Denmark, Germany, Japan, and France. We have a turnover of around 100 million euros, and this year we have produced about 700 units. The company employs 415 people, and our production facility is approximately 50,000 square metres in size.”

Jonas is keen to highlight the opportunities facing the organisation, both domestically and on the export market: “On the Swedish market, the business is dealing with numerous developments at this time, and LB-Hus is involved in a number of ongoing projects. There is an increased demand within this location, and our customers are mainly private companies and individuals constructing bungalow-style housing, as well as professional builders and developers like NCC and Veidekke. We sell both kits and turnkey solutions to these clients, and we are seeing significant interest from companies in the UK and Ireland. Over the next couple of years, LB-Hus will focus on the UK market, especially in the South East of England. Equally, the Irish housing industry is developing significantly, so this will also be an area of focus in future.

“There is a large amount of interest in our structural systems and concepts in the European market, particularly as they meet the code for sustainable homes within the UK industry, and the Green Homes scheme in Ireland, for example,” Jonas states. “In June of this year, the company is building its first houses in Ireland, and these will be compliant to Irish Housing standards. There are quite a lot of political factors in developing sustainable structures for the European construction industry, and our solutions meet these demands for energy efficiency. We are looking to establish ourselves in the market with this emphasis in mind.”

It is important to understand how the solutions LB-Hus provides can benefit housing developers. As Jonas outlines: “On the Swedish market, we work in a manner whereby every detail is handled, meaning it is possible for other components to be moved in straight away, like floors and white goods. The export market requires a different approach: we deliver all the materials through partners, specifically MMC timber frame building kits to plasterboard finish, which are required for the structural and thermal performance of the house, as well as the items that are logistically viable to have inside the house. Practically, this means we deliver external walls with fully insulated closed panels to plasterboard finish, with doors and highly energy efficient triple glazed windows pre-installed. These solutions include internal bearing walls as well as intermediate floor cassettes, gable head sections, and roof trusses. Our main strength is our development of the MMC concept, and if you compare this to the common defin tion within the UK, we have developed this idea to the next level where we can provide a total closed-panel timber frame system.”

The MMC system provides its users with many noticeable benefits, particularly higher levels of insulation and air-tightness of the structure. Jonas explains how this practically applies to the industry: “All of these factors contribute to the energy efficiency of our solutions, as well as to general environmental standards, which is of course vital in modern construction. This is particularly important in the UK, where buildings must meet the code for sustainable homes, and we operate extensively in this geographic region. The solutions we do offer to the UK market reach code level four. If we then add to this the factor of renewable resources, the structure will, already today reach level five or six, which will be a mandatory requirement in the UK by 2020, according to the code for sustainable homes.

“Meeting the challenges of environmental responsibility will provide the company with more opportunities to apply its products in new areas,” comments Jonas. “Housing will always be needed, so our products and concepts will meet the demands of the market. Equally, as we are able to meet with the regulatory issues currently in place, this is further beneficial to our position. LB-Hus always works alongside partners in the UK and Irish markets to help with selling our products, and we depend on their capability to penetrate the market in which they operate.”

Jonas concludes by stating the company’s ambitions for the future, and the market areas it aims to operate in: “Our vision is focused on continued strong growth, especially within export markets, where we believe our products and competence will be a contributing factor. As interest increases in regards to energy efficiency, then our range of structures and building technologies are in prime position to meet these requirements. In the future, an increased percentage of revenue will be generated through the export market, particularly in the UK and Ireland. The bid to reduce carbon emissions will increase the opportunities available to LB-Hus.”