Blokiwood® reinvents the wood frame
With the new targets for reducing carbon emissions in construction and government measures to develop the sector, wood is on the rise. A Savoyard company decided to upset the wood frame model with its Blokiwood® solution. Meeting with Joël Menard, founding director of Dom'Innov.
In which sector does Blokiwood® introduce innovation?
Joël Menard: With this constructive system, our company Dom'Innov goes against the current of what is done in prefabricated wood structure. Today, wood prefabrication focuses on very large structures that require washing systems, logistics and complex processes. However, these large formats pose a problem for a large part of the market. That's what guided our thinking towards a more portable and easy-to-implement format: Blokiwood®.
How does your product solve the format issues you mentioned?
Joël Menard: Blokiwood® is a fast modular construction system of insulated timber load-bearing walls. It directly integrates the structural and thermal parameters of a wall. It's a bit like a big game of Lego®, with pieces up to 60 cm wide and up to one storey high. Our library has about thirty predefined elements that offer an infinite combination. In addition, the flexibility of the wood material also allows us to make personalized elements for a project. For the architect, there are no real constraints, first because Blokiwood® focuses on structural elements - its visual impact is therefore very limited, then because its flexibility of use and its multiple combinations represent an asset for designers. The elements are produced in workshops, transported on site to be mounted. They are of limited size, which facilitates transport, lifting and implementation.
Where did you get the idea of such a system?
Joël Menard: Previously I ran a wood construction company with prefabrication in the workshop. I am therefore familiar with the logistical and implementation problems inherent in large format wood framing. I looked for how to solve them and the change of scale appeared to me as the solution. However, wood construction can not go much further in downscaling. With smaller elements, we quickly face other problems such as thermal bridges. The idea came to me in 2010. After first successful trials, we were able to move to the creation of the first prototypes in 2012.
What are the benefits of Blokiwood® in terms of sustainable development?
Joël Menard: The first benefit is the minimal carbon impact of our solution. We only use 100% French wood. The insulation embedded in our panels has no mineral groove, but uses only wood fiber. Blokiwood® is a 100% biobased system. In addition, our wood wall system is permeable to water vapor for optimized thermal comfort and energy efficiency.
How many buildings did you build with Blokiwood®?
Joël Menard: We already have about twenty individual houses. We are starting to hit the ERP market, with the major renovation of a school, in particular. Blokiwood® works equally well for new construction or renovation. In addition, a range of floor and roof boxes has recently been added to our wall elements, with a complete 100% modular and manuportable system.
What support does InnoEnergy bring you?
Joël Menard: InnoEnergy entered the capital of Dom'Innov a year ago. 2016 was a pivotal year for us: we received the favorable technical advice for Blokiwood®, we launched a fundraising campaign by which InnoEnergy arrived and we created our first production unit in Chambéry.
What are your development goals for 2018 and beyond?
Joël Menard: We want to expand into other markets than the single-family home, especially the extensions that we are currently tackling. Blokiwood® shows its relevance on complex and difficult to access projects such as extensions. We already have tracks for building sites in the islands of Brittany and for Parisian buildings. In the longer term, we plan to duplicate our production unit in other regions of France.
Interviewed by Sylvain Bosquet for InnoEnergy
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