Run four times a day, the tours take in 15 stands in a breathless hour. The idea is to give a snapshot of latest developments in timber’s use in construction, so participants can pick up basic information and go back later for more details. Visitors gathered at TRADA’s stand, took headphones so they could hear their guide, irrepressible TRADA marketing manager Rupert Scott, and off they shot.

Catching their wind afterwards, a couple of architects on the tour described it as providing a valuable insight and ideas. Perhaps most importantly, one said it had helped make timber "more approachable". While TRADA’s tireless efforts in the area make a significant and undoubtedly growing impact, this is something the wider industry has not been renowned for in the past, and it was raised again by outgoing president Martin Gale at the Timber Trade Federation annual dinner.

Compared to rival materials, which are underpinned by all the performance data required by architects, engineers and builders, and in a language they understand, the timber sector generally still falls down on providing this degree and availability of accessible data. As a result, it is perceived as difficult to use. But, Mr Gale added, more was now being done to back those already striving to make working with wood more straightforward, and he urged the industry to support it.

He was referring to the new Wood for Good campaign Wood First Plus. This started by lobbying local authorities to favour timber in planning guidelines due to its carbon benefits. Now it is pulling together an online data bank covering wood’s carbon benefits, life cycle assessment (LCA), engineering and performance figures, and compatibility with Building Information Modelling software. Companies will also be able to post their own Environmental Product Declarations.

The project has taken time ‘to secure multistakeholder agreement’ and a launch date for the data site is not yet fixed, but Wood for Good director David Hopkins said it was now progressing well, with an LCA consultant just appointed. Overall, he concluded, it was a project "the industry needs and needs to back as it will help them sell their products".

This work, of course, follows the American Hardwood Export Council’s major and on-going work on hardwood LCA, which started by looking at timber’s environmental impact from forest to factory gate, and is now evolving into a complete cradle to grave analysis – and more on this in our US Hardwoods Focus in April.

Another new idea for engaging construction professionals with timber is so simple, you wonder why no-one thought of it before – a clear sign that it’s a good one too. It comes from Edinburgh Napier University’s School of Engineering and Built Environment and it’s to get timber businesses to sponsor engineering graduates, to the tune of £3,750 each, to take its MSc in timber engineering. The aim, said Geoff Rhodes, advisory board chair of Napier’s Forest Products Research Institute, is to create a bedrock of timber engineers, leading to more and better use of timber in construction, and a body of engineer evangelists for the material. The target is now to secure 15-20 sponsors by May to support students in the next academic year. Two are signed up, and others are in discussions.

Meanwhile,TRADA is planning to create virtual tours for September’s Timber Expo, an event which itself is dedicated to making timber more accessible. So I won’t have to step up cross-trainer sessions beforehand after all.