Health, energy efficiency, sustainability, beauty. The advantages of wood construction are well known, and, with the development of new building technologies and constant materials research, they are becoming more evident year after year. Even in a country like Italy, which – unlike others in Northern Europe or North America – still has not developed a strong market for wood-based buildings.

Although the sector in Italy is relatively young, it is nevertheless in constant growth thanks to stakeholders working on a holistic approach, covering not only trade and technology but also training and marketing, to create an all-round culture of wood. Like in the case of Habitech – Distretto Tecnologico Trentino, which, 12 years ago, launched ARCA, Italy’s first system for the certification of wood construction.

The ARCA system

It is no coincidence that, when talking about ARCA, its creators call it a “system”. This is because it is not simply a certification protocol, but rather a constellation of initiatives that aim to make wood construction in Italy a consolidated practice and not just a passing trend. “The development of a certification protocol, the training of qualified professionals, and the establishment of a network are the three pillars needed to create a true culture of wood here in Italy,” ARCA Project Manager Mauro Carlino tells Renewable Matter.


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The certification protocol

Accordingly, the first step was to develop a certification protocol that stood out from the rest thanks to its specific focus on wood construction. “ARCA’s distinctiveness comes from being a vertical certification,” says Carlino. “This means it does not assess a cross-cutting issue, such as energy efficiency, across all construction technologies. Instead, it focuses on a specific technology, namely wood, and examines all its aspects: efficiency, acoustics, durability, health, safety, and so forth. Thus, ARCA can collaborate with other cross-cutting certifications such as LEED, CasaClima, or Passivhaus, in a complementary fashion.”

The reason why clients should turn to a complementary certification is easily explained: the market for wood construction in Italy has become established relatively recently and is rapidly expanding, which can lead to risks of design and manufacturing errors due to a lack of preparedness among businesses. “Having a specific certification for this technology therefore becomes a further guarantee of the building’s quality,” says Carlino.