Kebony is a Norwegian company which aims to be the leading wood brand and technology organisation. Underpinned by proven timber modification technologies, it produces an enhanced wood of a superior quality that is both environmentally friendly and cost-effective.
The company's headquarters is based in Oslo, with its production facility in Skien, South of Oslo. Currently employing about 60 people, Kebony has subsidiaries in Norway, Denmark and Sweden, sales representatives in Germany, France, UK and the US and a wide distribution network internationally. Shareholders are leading the venture with private equity investors from Germany, France, UK and Norway. The company has received numerous awards for its environmentally friendly technology and innovation, including its naming as a World Economic Forum Technology Pioneer.
The Kebony® technology permanently transforms sustainable wood species such as pine into Kebony wood with features that are comparable, and in some cases superior, to those of precious tropical hardwoods. This unique environmentally friendly process is also a superior alternative to traditional wood treatment based on impregnation with biocides (wood preservatives). The company’s patent-protected production processes yield products that deliver major improvements in durability and dimensional stability, at the same time as being highly attractive. The Kebony products are suitable for a multitude of applications and designs – encompassing both indoor and outdoor applications.
Kebony’s mission is, through active innovation, quality thinking and understanding of commercial possibilities; give the world beautiful, long lasting and environmentally friendly wood products. The company will show social responsibility and contribute to improvements of the environment in a way that builds a better future.
Kebony was founded in Norway in 1997, a new venture to develop and commercialise the inventions of Professor Dr. Marc H. Schneider, namely the eponymous Kebony technology – a revolutionary way of treating softwoods to give them advanced properties and divert demand from tropical forests. A pilot production facility opened in 2003 and from 2004 to 2007 Kebony began to deliver wood products to multiple high profile construction projects in Norway. In 2009, Kebony opened its industrially scaled plant based on the learnings from the pilot plant.
Over many years of research and development in Norway, Sweden and Canada, Kebony developed patented modification methods which alleviate demand for environmentally damaging tropical hardwoods, thus championing new possibilities for wood as a construction material.
Today Kebony offers a market-leading sustainable alternative to endangered tropical hardwood and environmentally damaging toxic-treated wood. Its technology enhances non-durable wood species to give them similar characteristics to the best performing hardwoods. Kebony wood provides architects and specifiers with a product that is unrivalled in its performance, delivering aesthetic value and durability.
Fully compliant with EU Timber Legislation, Kebony’s patented technology is an environmentally friendly process whereby sustainably-sourced wood species are impregnated with a liquid mixture based on furfuryl alcohol, produced from agricultural crop waste. With the addition of heat the furfuryl polymer is permanently grafted into the wood cell wall, resulting in greatly improved durability and dimensional stability and making the wood strong, resistant to biological decay and harsh weather conditions without the need for expensive and environmentally-damaging treatments. Kebony trumps alternative treated timbers which already exist in the market on a number of fronts; copper can sometimes be used to fortify wood, for example, but this frequently leaks out over time causing stains and a need to be replaced.
The process increases the wood’s durability and resistance, thereby circumventing the need for expensive and environmentally-damaging chemical treatments and prolonging the wood’s lifespan. Rather than deteriorating in extreme weather conditions or exposure to heat, light and wear, Kebony’s treated timbers will, over time, acquire an attractive silver-grey patina. Furthermore, Kebony is protected against fungi, rot and other wood-destroying microorganisms, meaning that it is ideal for use in hot tropical climates as well as in wet, windswept locations.
The organic beauty and simple aestheticism of wood should not be understated – whether coupled with metal and glass for a modern, minimalist appearance or used for the decking or cladding of a warm, contemporary build, the aesthetic value of the material is irrefutable. With a growing network of international distributors, Kebony has set its sights on redefining standards in the treated-timber industry and championing new possibilities for wood as a sustainable construction material. It has an impressive portfolio of international, high-profile projects and has featured in some headline-grabbing architectural ventures. KREOD – three vast interlocking ‘seed pods’ made from Kebony – was unveiled in London to great acclaim; Hunter’s Point – Kebony’s flagship project in the United States – saw the wood used to deck a vast expanse of riverside boardwalk in New York; and a noise-proof, luxury treehouse clad in the sustainable timber, stole the show at the Ideal Home and RHS Show in the UK. Goboat, an innovative initiative that was introduced to Copenhagen, has also proven very popular. The concept saw a fleet of sustainable picnic boats introduced to the city and subsequently won an Ivækst Entrepreneurial Idealist Award.
Kebony’s inclusion in these high profile, large-scale projects marks a turning point in the trajectory of wood as a construction material. Where, in recent years, the inclusion of vast decked areas and wooden piazzas in public projects might have been considered environmentally irresponsible, products such as Kebony mean that it has once again become a staple of the construction industry and an attractive aspect of a space or building’s composition.
More intricate objects have also been crafted from the material demonstrating the quality of the wood: a bespoke guitar demonstrated the sonic properties of the wood and a wealth of artisan objects, from tableware for NOMA Restaurant in Copenhagen, have all been created from Kebony over the years. Designers applaud Kebony’s versatility; as a material it can be crafted in ways that can only be compared to that of the highest quality tropical woods.
Kebony has received myriad awards in recognition of its green approach, named as one of the world’s most promising clean technology companies in the Global Cleantech 100 multiple times, it was cited as one of the top 50 companies that could change our world and it has received the Nordic region’s eco-label, the Swan and the Glass Bear for sustainable consumption and production. A wealth of further commendations and awards for innovation in business, sustainability and architectural achievements decorate Kebony’s corporate trophy cabinet.
With these projects, and growing collection of awards and commendations, Kebony has earned international acclaim. Looking to the future, Kebony plans to develop licensing packages for its unique technology to enable the build of a world-leading materials brand based on innovation, pioneering technology and manufacturing excellence.
Treated timber can bypass the need for maintenance, painting or varnishing, meaning that it is as ergonomically sound as it is environmental and it is therefore unsurprising that it is fast becoming the choice of many across the construction industry. What we can learn from the proliferation of new technologies and methods is that the future of timber construction is filled with the potential to incorporate innovative and imaginative ways to meet demands for sustainability in building.
The selection of sustainable materials is paramount to ensuing sustainability of any building. As a building material, Kebony is providing a world of potential for architects who are sensitive to the ecological pressures of the day but who are unprepared to compromise on look and finish. As attempts to create new sustainable materials for the construction industry flourish, Kebony leads the way and new applications for their wood are being pioneered around the world. Through a diverse and highly impressive project portfolio, Kebony has proved versatile and ergonomic, proving its worth in the home, out of doors and within intricate designed products. From the cruel Norwegian winters to the sticky hands, muddy boots, and stomping feet of family life, this wood has shown its mettle.