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Labour of Love – the First Detached House in Japan Earns FSC Project Certification

A newly built detached house, named “A House with a Story,” was awarded by SA – Soil Association a Partial Project Certification for its use of FSC-certified materials in both the exterior walls and interior components of the building. The materials used for this project are domestic FSC-certified woods. It was the first time in Japan that FSC Project Certification was given to a newly constructed detached house.

About “A House with a Story”

“A House with a Story” is a private house owned by Mr. Masahiro Kawatei, who is a representative from CEPA Japan, a pro bono association in environmental communication. He has been concerned about the reducing domestic timber price due to cheap foreign imports, the subsequent decline of leadership and manpower in forestry and the degradation of domestic plantations because of the lack of management. In order to encourage and promote the use of woods from FSC-certified and responsibly managed forests, he decided to lead by example and proactively used FSC-certified domestic timber to build his own house, a decision welcomed and supported by his house building team.

There are currently 36 FSC-certified forests in Japan (as of 13 November 2017). In this project, two types of FSC-certified timber are involved, namely Cryptomeria japonica from Minamisanriku Town, Miyagi Prefecture, in which Mr. Kawatei himself involved in the reconstruction after the Great East Japan Earthquake in 2011, and Larix kaempferi from Yamanashi Prefecture.

Building the First FSC Project-Certified Newly-Built House

FSC Project Certification is a certification for one-off articles such as buildings, vessels and event venues. There are two types of Project Certification: Full Certification and Partial Certification.

For Full Certification, at least 50% by volume or cost of all wood materials used in the project must be FSC 100%, FSC Mix or post-consumer reclaimed materials, with the remainder being Controlled Wood. For Partial Certification, there is no minimum requirement on the ratio of certified materials used, but all materials claimed to be certified must be 100% FSC-certified and stated clear in all publicity.

This project is only awarded a Partial Certification as many plasterboards were used and made Full Certification not possible

Check out the FSC-certified materials used in this project.

Items Species Origin of FSC certified forest FSC Certificate holder
Exterior walls, Interior walls, Ceiling, Flooring, Stairs, Bookshelf Cryptomeria japonica Minamisanriku Town, Motoyoshi-Gun, Miyagi Prefecture Minamisanriku Forest Stewardship Alliance (FSC-C127325)
Counter Larix kaempferi Yamanashi Prefecture Yamanashi Prefecture (FSC-C012256), TSC CO., LTD. (FSC-C121389)

To obtain such materials, a new procurement route had to be established. Big applause to the cooperative efforts of Mr. Shuichiro Ishikawa, president of building company “Home Sweet Home Made” and designer Mr. Yoshiyuki Endo.

Picking the Right Timber

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Tree felling ceremony on 4 March 2017 (From left: Ms Megumi Ishimoto (a partner), Mr. Sato and Mr. Kawatei)

Minamisanriku cedar was used for the exterior walls and the interior of the house. To handpick a tree of his preference, Mr. Kawatei visited the forest in Minamisanriku Town in March this year. Together with Mr. Taichi Sato, Director General of Minamisanriku Forest Stewardship Alliance and active promoter of local timber, and Mr. Kunio Onodera, President of Maruhei Timber Co., Ltd., who works on the revitalisation of residential buildings, they performed a tree felling ceremony after selecting “the chosen one” for the project.

Labour of Love

The building company for this project, “Home Sweet Home Made”, adopts the “Semi Self-Building approach. It means that the house owner has to take part in the building of his or her own house rather than leaving it to the sole hands of carpenters and craftsmen. As a result, Mr. Kawatei invited his friends to work with him on the plasterwork of his house and, with the help of Mr. Daisuke Kawakami, a DIY advisor, they accomplished tasks such as pasting masking tapes, surface preparation and applying plaster to the walls. A total of 55 people worked for three weeks to complete the plasterwork. The plaster used is made from Hokkaido scallop shells, which are known to be an environmentally friendly material that regulates humidity.

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House Profile

“A House with a Story”
Owner: Masahiro Kawatei
Designer: Yoshiyuki Endo
Building Company: Home Sweet Home Made Co., Ltd.
Ground-floor area: 86.53 m2
Architectural area: 87.85 m2
Structure: 2-story wooden house

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