Simulated Earthquake Test in Japan Proves Safety and Durability of Coastal Forest Products

    PENTICTON, BC, Sept. 24 /CNW/ - B.C.'s coastal forest industry took a
major step this week toward regaining market share in Japan with a unique
simulated earthquake test of products specifically designed for the Japanese
housing market. The successful test will be presented to mayors attending the
Union of BC Municipalities annual conference by the Minister of Forests and
Range in Penticton, B.C. on September 25, 2008. A video of the Japanese test
will show the mayors how coastal hemlock used in traditional Japanese homes
can withstand the strong seismic forces that levelled Kobe in 1995. Using one
of the most powerful three-dimensional seismic shake table facilities in the
world, located in Tsukuba, a full-sized three-storey Post and Beam (P&B)
traditional house survived the test with flying colours.
    The successful full-house shake table test illustrates the technical
developments that have taken place through a six-year research program, worth
$1.2 million, to promote the superior performance and use of Canadian forest
products in both residential and commercial applications in Japan. Working
together, Japan's Building Research Institute, the Centre for Better Living
and the Public Works Research Institute, UBC's Department of Wood Science and
the forest industry conducted the test to document how coastal hemlock
structural products, known as Canada Tsuga in Japan, and Canadian engineered
oriented strandboard perform in some of the most severe seismic forces ever
    Attending the shake table test in Japan, Coast Forest Products
Association's President and CEO Rick Jeffery said: "Seeing first-hand how
traditional homes can withstand powerful earthquake forces is a truly
astounding experience, and one that drives home the central importance of
developing the research and knowledge base that helps to keep Japanese housing
at the forefront of the world in safety and durability."
    Remarkably, Japan experiences 100 earthquakes a year. The computer model
developed by UBC predicts the earthquake performance of P&B structures that
use B.C. wood and will prove to Japanese regulators that coastal hemlock meets
regulations regarding seismic performance, strength and warranty conditions
for housing.
    Minister of Forests and Range, the Honourable Pat Bell, believes the
success of this test cements the long-term future for the coastal forest
industry in Japan. "Japan is BC's largest offshore forest products market and
technical work of this nature helps to supply our Japanese customers with
confidence that our products contribute to stronger, safer and more
seismically durable homes."
    The Kobe earthquake disaster raised the level of safety concerns for
Japanese homeowners, causing consumers to link their desire for strong housing
to high strength building materials. The shake table computer modeling is the
first tool of its kind to define the structural performance of building
systems based on the properties of housing components.
    The B.C. coastal forest industry has been supplying hemlock to Japan for
decades and the product was very widely accepted for use in P&B construction,
but the earthquake and a downturn in the Japanese economy resulted in a
serious loss of market share for the coastal industry.
    UBC Professor Emeritus David Barrett, Department of Wood Science, notes
that as wood use in Japan evolved more to dry products, some misperceptions
developed about the performance of hemlock. "It was very important that we
develop a new marketing strategy and a new technical program to overcome those
perceptions, and we have."
    The Governments of British Columbia and Canada, through Forestry
Innovation Investment Ltd. and the Canada Wood Export Program, have provided
significant financial support in the research that led up to this test while
industry has supplied Canada Tsuga product and OSB materials.

    The Japan earthquake video will be posted on Coast Forest's website
Thursday morning. Visit

    /NOTE TO PHOTO EDITORS: A photo accompanying this release is available on
    the CNW Photo Network and archived at
    Additional archived images are also available on the CNW Photo Archive
    website at Images are free to accredited
    members of the media/

For further information:

For further information: Media Contact: Sandra Bishop, (604) 312-9737

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