Puolivartalokuva Kimmo Huttusesta. Hänellä on harmaa pikkutakki ja kädet vartalon sivuilla sekä katse kameraan. Kimmolla on parta ja silmälasit. Hän seisoo portaiden juuressa, taustalla punainen tiiliseinä.

Kimmo Huttunen: Towards a More Ambitious Construction Industry

A boost in challenges and ambition, that’s what the construction industry needs, a viewpoint strongly held by Kimmo Huttunen. In spring 2023, a phone call opened the door to a new position at Fiberwood, offering plenty of both. Next up in our Fossil Free series spotlighting our experts is Kimmo Huttunen, Director of Product Management and Technical Sales at Fiberwood.

At the turn of the millennium, armed with a degree in construction engineering, Kimmo landed a job as a technical advisor for the construction product range of a Finnish family-owned business. This was followed by a 14-year journey through various positions in a global company, including product manager for construction insulation, export manager and sales manager. Kimmo eventually circled back to his first employer to head the product management organisation, until he took a leap into the startup world.

At Fiberwood, several key elements important to Kimmo converge: environmental values, engineering expertise, and innovations.

“My work aligns with my core competencies, particularly the opportunities opened by new technical solutions in building technology and structural energy efficiency, without overlooking building physics. The circular economy, resource efficiency, and biodiversity are also major issues that are rewarding to influence through my work. If we can minimise waste and utilise side streams that would otherwise be burned for energy, we are solving some of the construction industry’s problems as well,” Kimmo explains.

Innovation Becomes the New Normal Through Dialogue

Pioneering new innovations and steering product development teams has always been a passion for Kimmo. He thrives at the heart of organisations, equally understanding the users of the materials as well as their manufacturing processes, and serving as a liaison between product development, sales, and customers. He possesses adept skills in initiating discussions and employing strategic arguments to advocate for changes when engaging with builders, designers, and other influential parties who, although not direct purchasers, affect the industry through product specifications.

Kimmo’s extensive networks and his ability to engage in meaningful dialogues with stakeholders have been pivotal as Fiberwood has introduced a new solution to established markets, leading with a minimal environmental footprint. Comprehending market requirements and the technical basis for selling the product, as well as navigating product development in alignment with customer desires, remains critical.

“For instance, designers are particularly focused on the technical and measurable properties of insulation, that is, performance as determined by standards, whereas end-users are more concerned with the product’s installation process and its tactile experience during installation. Additionally, regulations mandate specific standards for fire safety, thermal insulation capacity and moisture resistance. I relay these diverse needs and expectations from different stakeholders to the product development team,” Kimmo shares.

Now is the Time to Accelerate – The Planet Won’t Wait

Adopting new practices and integrating them into the entirety of an industry is a slow process. Nevertheless, time is of the essence, and climate change will not pause, waiting for humanity to declare its readiness for change. The construction industry’s slow pace and conservative nature have been sources of frustration for Kimmo.

“The construction industry needs to embrace challenges to progress, as it has, in my view, been lacking in ambition. The necessity for change should not be perceived merely as a mandatory, top-down minimum effort that’s barely adequate. Instead, there should be an understanding of the long-term environmental responsibility that comes with the longevity of buildings. It is short-sighted to market a product that only meets today’s regulations in 2024. We should look further ahead and strive to offer something that won’t cause regret in 2124. In my role at Fiberwood, I have the opportunity to influence, set an example, and demonstrate how we can approach things differently than in the past.”

However, there’s hope on the horizon. Kimmo feels that the market has finally recognised that resistance to change is no longer an option:

“There’s interest in Fiberwood’s solution not only from those in timber construction but also from stakeholders in steel and concrete construction who are actively engaging in the green transition. Even industries traditionally known for being conservative, energy-intensive, and carbon-heavy are diligently searching for more sustainable solutions.”

For a product development specialist, being in an environment brimming with new opportunities is exhilarating. Discovering insights into feasible solutions brings Kimmo a profound sense of achievement. The positive reception to Fiberwood’s innovation is equally gratifying:

“We tackle environmental sustainability from numerous perspectives, and issues related to carbon footprint are increasingly becoming catalysts for change in various sectors. Customers are genuinely interested in our company, our products, and the potential impact on their businesses.”

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