The Timber in Construction Roadmap - a good place to start

Latest News Tue, Apr 2, 2024 7:31 AM

Dr Jelena Arsic van Os, CEO at Accsys Technologies, welcomes the Timber in Construction (TiC) roadmap but explains why the industry must embrace sustainably sourced timber - in all its applications - and how this needs to happen today.

The construction sector makes up around a quarter of UK greenhouse gas emissions which, for one sector, is a very heavy contribution. The Government’s new Timber in Construction roadmap places a spotlight on the inherently renewable qualities of timber and the role it can play in reducing the carbon impact of our buildings – which is something we have championed at Accsys through our purpose of changing wood to change the world.

Many have welcomed the roadmap – and rightly so. In fact, the Government’s commitment to promoting timber as a building material could play an important role in the construction industry’s ability to achieve net zero.

Timber is having it’s well-deserved time in the spotlight. People are waking up to the benefits of its renewability (when responsibly sourced), its potential strength and its natural aesthetic. The TiC’s roadmap is a further helpful step towards encouraging more timber use in construction. However, we believe that more can be done to unlock the full potential of timber as a construction material.

What we need to see are developments and restorations being designed and constructed with the use of sustainably sourced and renewable materials throughout. This isn’t just about the structural interior of the building, it’s about the whole building and its surrounds. This means returning to the use of timber for windows and doors as standard, and considering timber, where possible, for wider applications such as cladding and decking. However, one of the issues faced is that there needs to be more education on innovations in the industry that have enhanced the properties of timber, especially for external applications.

Historically, some have been nervous about timber’s performance and durability, especially outdoors in the UK’s changeable climate. Indeed, some heritage buildings have suffered from wood rotting, warping or swelling. However, advances in the timber industry now mean that there are highly durable timber products available that can rival intensely resource depleting counterparts such as steel, aluminium, or uPVC. Innovative processes, such as acetylation, enhance wood’s natural properties. This means that there are timber products on the market, such as Accoya and Tricoya, that are highly durable, insect resistant and long lasting. In fact, Accoya has a 50-year warranty above ground and a 25-year warranty in ground or fresh water and is completely non-toxic.

Low maintenance timber solutions like Accoya are ideal for a wide range of projects, from heritage restorations to modern biophilic designs, helping architects bring their designs to life while also giving peace of mind to those that will be using the buildings, that their new space will stand the test of time.

Of course, different types of timber vary in terms of their performance and sustainability credentials. For specifiers and architects, it is important to look out for long lasting timber products that are highly durable, such as Durability Class One (EN 350-1 & EN 335-1). By lasting longer the materials are inherently more sustainable. Additionally, it’s important to look for products that are 100% FSC® certified, which verifies that the wood is sourced from ethically managed forests, and other certifications such as Cradle to Cradle®, which is a highly prestigious accreditation for materials, products and systems that positively impact the shift to a circular economy.

At Accsys, we’ve been championing the increased use of timber in the construction industry since our beginnings and sourcing sustainable timber is in our DNA. We are committed to sourcing from well-managed forests that are renewable, adhere to regulations, and implement practices like selective harvesting and reforestation.

Ultimately, this roadmap is a crucial piece to the puzzle in championing the benefits of innovative, high performing timber. But it is now over to the construction industry to maximise the benefits of timber in all of its applications, whether that is for structural use, for joinery, or in the development of external façades.

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