It wasn’t long ago that the timber trade avoided the ‘S’ word like the plague. ‘Sustainability’ was used as a stick by environmentalists to beat the sector and if you even whispered it in your marketing, you risked a green backlash. They didn’t slate all timber as unsustainable but suppliers had no means of proving wood’s sustainability to the greens’ satisfaction; either that, or the latter would accept the word’s use only if products were sanctioned by their preferred certification scheme.

But times have changed. Forestry and timber certification is far more widespread and there are even hints of rapprochement between the various environmentalist- and industry-backed schemes. In fact, it now looks as though ‘sustainability’ may become the stick timber can take to rival materials.

That was the impression gained at an inspirational Nordic Timber Council/Wood for Good timber in construction seminar.

One speaker, architect Jon Broome, said that, with government ‘locked into sustainable development’, interest in timber in construction can only grow. And he emphasised the sustainability of timber products on all fronts, from the tree being a renewable resource, to timber-based buildings using less energy to build, heat and maintain.

Seminar compere Max Hutchinson reinforced the message, stressing the need to train architects in the use of timber to the same degree as in steel, concrete and glass.

Another blow for timber sustainability was struck with the launch of TRADA‘s on-line Timber Recycling Information Centre. This new website tells you all you ever wanted to know about woodwaste – and more! The aim is partly to help the sector cut wasteful production methods, but also to highlight that woodwaste can be transformed into commercially and ecologically sound products.

What other industry could defend its environmental record by talking rubbish!