Olympics certification sets new record12 May 2012
The dual certification of the London Olympic Park paves the way for other large, complex construction projects, says Beck Woodrow, Woodmark project manager
• The London Olympic Park is the world's first dual certified project.
• More than 12,500m³ of timber was used on the site.
• Construction delivery partner CLM had a Timber Management Plan from the outset.
• Soil Association Woodmark can now offer a Project Certification standard adapted to large and complex building projects.
The final figures of 67% FSC and 33% PEFC timber (including less than 1% to cover FSC Controlled Wood and PEFC non-controversial sources) demonstrated the commitment of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA) to “get it right” for London 2012, the quality of the Timber Supply Panel and the strength of the system that was put in place to verify it.
And, of course, it proves that it is now possible to source almost every kind of timber product from a certified source. Over 12,500m³ was used, ranging from red louro cladding at the Aquatics centre, the Siberian pine velodrome track, enormous laminated beams at Eton Manor, cumaru benches in the landscaped areas and countless metres of decking, panels and carcassing timber.
In a ground breaking, collaborative project, Soil Association Woodmark worked with the ODA’s construction delivery partner CLM, with guidance from FSC and PEFC, to adapt existing chain of custody standards to the needs of a ‘super project’. The audit was as rigorous as ever, with a decision made on a sampling strategy based on accepted norms and an approach which meant the outcome could be stated as a percentage of timber that could be attributed to both FSC and PEFC’s underlying forestry standards. In total eight operations within the Olympic Park were sampled for closer checking against the centralised record-keeping and monitoring procedures, identifying those using most timber; the sample covered more than 7,500m³ or 61% of all timber used on the project.
Some key factors helped the ODA achieve its aim. CLM had a comprehensive Timber Management Plan from the outset and the Park’s “ring of steel” ensured excellent organisation of all incoming materials. The Timber Supply Panel, comprising 16 UK-based merchants, all with chain of custody, ensured good control of certified products to all the contractors and subcontractors. Finally, auditing of the overall project was managed by experienced staff at Woodmark’s head office with the onsite auditing team a combination of in-house Woodmark staff (Penny Bienz) and Ligna Ltd (Mike Greenland).
So, a great outcome and also a really useful learning curve.
Challenge and achievement
“FSC UK is delighted that the 2012 Olympic Park has achieved FSC Project Certification for such an extensive and complex site,” said FSC UK executive director Charles Thwaites. “It was a huge leap of faith for the ODA to have embarked on such a challenge. Nevertheless, a project of this scale proves beyond doubt that developers, given the sort of commitment seen here, can always find sufficient certified timber for their needs.”
PEFC UK national secretary Alun Watkins is proud of the achievement, and the collaboration.
“PEFC is delighted to have worked collaboratively with FSC to help make dual certification of this highly prestigious project possible. This is the first dual certified project in the world and we are proud that the UK has provided an example for others to follow,” he said.
Project Certification was first developed by FSC in 2006; with a majority of timber suppliers now certified, there was a need to close the final gap and enable timber to be tracked to sites so that verified claims could be made. Certification had been slow to take off in the construction sector, and it was recognised that a standard which included several contractors and levels of subcontractors in one certification audit schedule would be more user friendly. A revision of the FSC project standard will take place next year. The PEFC chain of custody standard (as the certification process commenced in 2010, the now-superseded Annex 4 was used) had accompanying guidelines for construction projects which can now be developed further.
With the experience gained from London 2012, Woodmark can now offer a piloted, proven Project Certification standard adapted to the needs of large and complex construction projects. In the case of London, work had been under way for some time before Woodmark came on board, but thanks to CLM’s excellent systems this proved not to be a barrier. Ideally though, early pre-assessment would help to identify areas where procedures need to match more closely the requirements of the chain of custody standards. Certification can be FSC or PEFC only, or dual and based on percentages, as for the Olympic Park, or even focus on a single claim for an iconic timber feature. An experienced eye at the outset will help to identify the best option and the readiness of likely suppliers.
However, Project Certification is not only for Olympic-scale projects and the newly revised approach can be adapted to even the smallest developments. We welcome all enquiries and look forward to applying the experience gained from the Olympic Park to future construction projects.