Environmental concerns are working their way into all aspects of business.

The HSBC, a bank, has a policy on timber. The bank says it will not provide facilities, money or other services for, inter alia, any companies which purchase, trade or process timber from primary tropical moist forest or high conservation value forest.

The government’s public procurement policy is increasingly geared to environmentally-sound purchasing.

The DIY sheds want certified timber. And housebuilders are recognising the benefits of timber construction but want to ensure their reputation is maintained by buying legal wood from well-managed forests.

When coupled with the activities of NGOs it may feel like a threat – get environmental or else! But these instances are providing opportunities. In the HSBC case, access to funds that some competitors will not have; likewise with public procurement, DIY sheds or housebuilders, being environmental wins business.

Collectively our competitors in steel, plastic, and brick and block can’t hold a candle to this industry’s environmental credentials. The trouble is those same competitors will not be slow in highlighting the down side of the global timber trade – illegal logging – and that grabs headlines. Therefore the more we can do to prove our environmental credentials the better. Certification, chain of custody and the TTF‘s Responsible Purchasing Policy allow us to rebuff any criticism and win us business. And it also enables those very same NGOs to sing our praises, as a recent WWF report states: buy timber windows over plastic. There is no more powerful endorsement than that.

At the TTF these developments are moving more and more members to the RPP. The HSBC case itself led a member to sign up.

But we also need to communicate our messages to all our stakeholders, from builders to buyers, and consumers to construction companies. That takes money, but powerful generic promotion of our products on the back of our environmental credentials coupled with the proof that those credentials are sound, means we can grow the use of wood.