Whatever area of the construction sector we look at, we see an industry changing old habits and working towards a more sustainable future. All sectors are concerned – from manufacturers working to reduce their carbon footprints, to architects, builders and specifiers working within the parameters of new legislation and guidelines, such as the Code for Sustainable Homes. There is no escaping the fact that everyone is now expected to play a part in minimising their environmental impact.

With certain methods of construction set in stone (if you’ll excuse the pun), it would have been easy for the building industry to continue along the same path without questioning traditional practices. But with the growing requirement for all-round sustainability, that’s changing.

It’s now not difficult to find ‘green design’ in work being carried out by local authorities, housing associations and forward-thinking housebuilders in the UK and Ireland. Of course, government has had a hand in setting the industry on a low carbon course. Its target for all new homes to be zero carbon by 2016 is a case in point, but what’s wrong with a bit of gentle persuasion every now and then?

More recently, it was encouraging to hear environment minister Phil Woolas urging builders to consider materials with an environmentally-friendly edge and explore alternatives to brick and concrete.

So now is the perfect time for the trade to be promoting timber and wood products, the most environmentally-friendly construction materials on the market. At the same time, however, it should not be a case of any wood will do. Let’s take the issue of cheaper imports of plywood into the UK and Ireland as an example. Now, more than ever, specifiers need to know where their timber is from and that it has the right credentials for the job. If it has travelled half way around the world it raises carbon footprint issues. And what about the quality and validity of environmental certification?

There are locally sourced, proven and sustainable timber alternatives to such products and it’s our job to make the customer aware of them.