Solid wood is not only the safest material when it comes to fire, flood or earthquakes, but it also protects its inhabitants from all kinds of harmful, high frequency electromagnetic waves. It completely stops, for example, mobile phone frequencies. This has been confirmed by research conducted by the Bundeswehr University in Munich.
It has also been found that wood is best suited for the construction of rooms with the highest level of surveillance protection required as well. Thanks to this finding, Dr. Thoma's company has received a number of orders to build various structures for the German army.
This seven-floor hotel is built completely out of Holz100 – 100% pure wood. It proves day by day the incredible static strength of this natural, raw material. More so, there is even a huge swimming pool located on the seventh floor which boasts a open-air panoramic view of surrounding mountains. Starting from the day that its foundation was laid, the time that it took to officially open its doors only took 2 months.
This is the Austrian, state-of-the-art film archive, which houses 70,000 historical nitro-film reels. Fumes from the film erode rebars in reinforced concrete and therefore wood becomes most suitable for this purpose. This archive requires no external sources of electricity, and the constantly monitored temperature is at 3 degrees Celsius throughout the year as fluctuations are unacceptable in this case. In the summer, the facade warms up to an average temperature of twenty degrees Celsius from the outside and only a small, solar-powered air conditioner is at work.
To obtain such a result, the building has been modeled after a red ant forest anthill.
The larval hatching chamber at the center of the mound is exceptionally resistant to variations in outdoor temperatures. For this purpose, a research project was created, which involved the best BMW specialists in engine thermodynamics. It turned out that wood has two completely unique thermodynamic properties. 1 kg of wood accumulates 2.5 times as much heat as 1 kilogram of stone, and the time required to change its temperature is much longer than any other natural, raw material.
This is the Haramura church near Fukushima in Japan which withstood a well-known earthquake for its destruction. Moreover, it is capable of surviving typhoons of up to 200 km per hour. One should know that for concrete, it is irreversibly damaged once it passes breaking point. Wood, on the other hand, flexes, shifts into the elastic phase, and then returns to its original form.
In 2012, Dr. Thoma's company built an energy self-efficient 5-floor commercial wooden building in Hamburg. This is ArcheNEO in Oberndorf, Tirol. A 6,600 square meter office complex, in which tenants’ leases state that they will not have to pay even a penny for heating throughout the year. The whole complex is built out of wood and not a trace of chemicals were used. Its temperature is regulated by heat pumps powered by photovoltaic batteries located on the roof.
Absence of glue between layers create microscopic air gaps. There are additional air channels between some layers, allowing for improved thermal insulation. In this field, it has been so far assumed that the highest heat transfer coefficient (U-value) that wood can achieve is 0.14. However, this is true for glue laminated wood. Unglued and mechanically linked walls of Dr. Thoma have achieved a result twice as efficient; a U-value of 0.078. As such, a 36 cm thick Holz100 wall would provide a similar insulation to a 75 cm thick, solid, glue-laminated wooden wall (CLT) or a 10 m thick reinforced concrete wall.
Leaving out chemicals and toxins in the processing of Holz100 surprisingly led it to break the world record in thermal insulation for building materials. The results were so unbelievable that initially the Frauenhofer Institute in Stuttgart denied to issue a certificate. Over time, both the Frauenhofer and the Graz Technical University confirmed the results and issued relevant certificates.
The U value does not tell us everything, however; it turns out to be a poor manipulation created to favor thermal insulation manufacturers. In a laboratory experiment at the University of Graz, three walls with identical heat transfer coefficients were compared: an internally insulated prefabricated wall made of gypsum and particle board; a brick wall with Polystyrene insulation; and a 30 cm solid wood wall (holz100). The test room was at a room temperature without heating, and the outside temperature was -10 degrees Co. The test measured the time, in which the internal wall would reach 0 degrees Co. To reach 0 Co, It took 2 days for the prefab wall, the insulated brick wall took 10 days, and finally the solid wood wall (holz100) required over a month of time.
Moisture is yet another problem in construction. Water vapor and condensation is such a difficult issue that no company in the world can guarantee construction materials free of condensation and mold growth for more than 5 years. Lower Saxony's research has revealed recently that 80% of all homes equipped with styrofoam thermal insulation have developed mildew between the wall and the styrofoam. Mold is one of the worst poisons of all that can toxicate residential buildings.
Dr. Thoma guarantees his Holz100 houses for 50 years against moisture and mold. He has already built over 1000 houses in 33 countries, from the tropics to the Arctic Circle and, so far, has not received a single complaint.
to Dr. Erwin Thoma's book, "A Future with Natural Wood"
Exclamation: expressing astonishment or admiration
Noun: a sensational success
Verb: to impress and excite (someone) greatly
This informal word best expresses the reaction I share with all those who understand and appreciate the significance of Erwin Thoma's creation - Holz100. In this, his first book translated into English, you will find interesting and amusing stories that reveal Erwin's wealth of knowledge regarding trees, forests and wood. Perhaps, for some readers, this book will contain more information than they imagined possible for such subjects. For others, this will be a welcome introduction to wood-related subjects and an inspiration for a future using natural wood. Written in a colloquial style, it offers an insight into his humble genius.
For any advocate of environmentalism, this book should not only help clear up those myths regarding the use of wood as a building material but also reinforce the fact that this totally sustainable, natural resource, when used responsibly, is the best alternative to all other construction materials.
As an architect, I wish to highlight one aspect of this book that explains the remarkable building system invented and manufactured by Erwin that has won numerous awards and a loyal following in Europe.
I met Erwin for the first time about ten years ago. I heard about his company that manufactured a structural building system using 100% wood. It was advertised to have no glues, toxic chemicals, resins or mechanical fasteners. It was so well engineered that one could build multi-story buildings out of it or construct a single-family house in only days, not months.
Then I began to learn about the rest of the "wow;" the thermal mass of the product providing comfort to the occupants while greatly reducing energy costs; persons with allergies could live in these buildings without suffering from hidden toxins or allergens; sound attenuation was remarkable; hotels and spas built from this material were receiving rave reviews from guests who slept better, were more relaxed and enjoyed the smell of the forest unique to Holz100 buildings. Finally, I learned that the manufacturing process was equally astonishing in that it recycles its waste wood in special clean-burn furnaces that, with supplemental solar panels, create more than enough electricity and heat to operate the facility.
So here I was introduced to a major structural building system based on ancient construction techniques, using state-of-the-art technology, and with a totally sustainable source of material as its basic ingredient - produced "off the grid" no less. This is truly the ultimate "cradle to cradle" product.
I expect to see this wonderful system produced in the United States in the coming years as its unique qualities - described thoughtfully and passionately in these pages - comes to the attention of builders, developers, architects and homeowners looking for the ultimate green building material.
- Gordon R. Pierce, Architect
"The realization of my dream to create the very best buildings in the world is the development of our prefabricated solid Holz100 House. A good energy-efficient home should not only be comfortable, natural and healthy. It needs to have excellent ratings regarding insulation (heat, cold, acoustic, electromagnetic radiation), fire safety, and air conditioning." - Dr. Erwin Thoma
We found wood has many hidden qualities and we developed a traditional building technique into a new and healthy 'High Tech' innovation. The name means pure, 100% wood, nothing added. With a Holz100 house, walls, ceilings and roof are made of large, solid and prefabricated wooden panels which can be erected in a very short space of time. These elements are made of untreated wood, no glues, laminates, or nails.
To build with Holz100 elements results in high-performance ratings which previously were thought of as impossible.
Holz100 elements consist of boards and battens which, piece by piece, are lying horizontally next to each other making up the size of the panel. The second layer is stacked diagonally, the third layer vertically and so on. These layers form elements as thick as is required for walls, ceilings and floors.
The question now is how to keep them together and end up with cohesive building elements. The solution lies in wood itself.
As early as antiquity itself and at the time of ancient Egypt, large blocks of rock were exploded and split by swelling wood. Lacking explosives and machinery, people fitted bone-dry wooden dowels into holes and cracks. Then, they just added water. Dry wood absorbs the moisture and expands. This irresistibly strong force even splits granite boulders. It is one of the strongest forces in nature and we harness it for our Holz100 elements.
Holes are drilled through all the element's layers, each consisting of individual battens lying next to each other. Then kiln-dried wooden dowels are driven into the neatly fitting holes. Even in dry climates a wooden wall always retains rest moisture (ranging from 6% to 15% relative moisture content). The moisture of the surrounding wood is absorbed by the dowel which swells and expands tightly into its hole. Because no room climate anywhere in the world can be as dry as in a kiln, this joint can't ever be dissolved other than by drilling it out.
Because the layers are stacked crisscross, the patented Holz100 element is solid. It can be rendered, tiled or painted. The advantages of building with purely natural, untreated wood are mainly in the following areas:
Warmth and Noise Insulation
Cooling Down Time
Scientific tests, publications and building certifications were undertaken at several different universities and institutes in Austria, Germany, Norway, Japan and USA which are now available through the Erwin Thoma Research Centre.
Holz100 Canada Inc.