Driving sustainable construction is not easy, particularly when the industry is locked into old-fashioned, wasteful processes which do nothing for carbon reduction both during construction and in service. The UKTFA is constantly defending the use of timber in construction against attacks from certain quarters hell-bent on protecting their own vested interests, rather than getting behind the absolute need of decarbonising and innovating construction.

A prime example is a wildly inaccurate report on fire in timber frame from RISCAuthority, a body that should know better. To an unqualified statistician or casual reader this highly volatile piece of material could easily sway the reader against timber frame. The report is highly misleading, technically inaccurate, lacks any credible substance and is quite clearly drafted without any understanding of construction methods in the US or the UK.

That research damages the reputation of timber frame in a localised way, but as a timber community we have even bigger issues to battle – the biomass agenda.

Burning wood for electricity and heat generation may be seen to be green, but this is countered by taking the resource which could be used for construction. By building more timber frame, the overall reduction in fuel for heating and consequently carbon reduction far outweighs the benefit of biomass. Burning virgin wood, or used wood that has recycling potential, is a waste of a valuable resource and pushes up raw material prices, which again helps the sustainable construction doubters to push the message of “high timber costs” designed to dissuade the use of large volumes of timber in construction on cost grounds.

The Wood Panel Industries Federation’s Make Wood Work campaign is designed to raise awareness of this wasteful use of a valuable resource and to lobby government to change its views on biomass (p7).

We would take the very best UK industry has to offer and build homes and public buildings that make the greatest visual impact but the least impact on our resources – in essence, it would require the construction industry to undo its thinking and redefine a brave new timber future.

? TTJ Industry Updates are a forum for trade bodies to address key issues.