The project lead is engineering consultancy Elliott Wood, joined by implementing partners Waugh Thistleton Architects, fire engineers OFR Consultants and insurance specialists Lignum Risk Partners – technical and design experts in the built environment known for their advocacy of structural timber.

The development of the Commercial Timber Guidebook has additional backing and input from some of the largest investors, developers and asset owners in the UK including Stanhope plc, Related Argent, Lendlease, British Land, Derwent London, Landsec, MUSE, Berkeley Estate Asset Management (BEAM) and Hines.

The involvement of developers is significant, as the Guidebook seeks to show that a wide-ranging coalition of the biggest industry stakeholders in the UK can reach consensus on how to mitigate risks of large and complex timber developments, while demonstrating the industry’s technical competency to insurers and developers.

The Guidebook will establish common ground and a realistic route for the wider adoption of structural timber in commercial buildings through consensus on defined design principles, mass timber building typologies and technical design measures. With agreed guidelines and clear framework in place as to how risk can be quantified and mitigated, the Guidebook can address the challenges and costs around insuring timber structures, the single largest barrier to mass timber construction in the UK.

The project will also complement existing projects targeting insurance barriers through direct engagement and leverage recognised industry networks such as the UK Green Building Council, Better Buildings Partnership and the Institution of Structural Engineers for dissemination of the Guidebook. 

“This is an exciting, important project given the scope of its cross-sector collaboration and the involvement of major UK developers,” said Amanda Sturgeon, CEO at Built by Nature. “The Guidebook can be a milestone on the roadmap to wider acceptance of timber by creating a clear, peer-reviewed framework for overcoming the insurance barriers. And by securing the endorsements from major developers, asset owners and designers in the UK, we can create better policy conditions for mass timber offices and bring the market significantly closer to large-scale insurability.”

“There is a clear need for a collective voice on the subject to agree consensus on good practice and to educate the industry, to unlock the barriers to adopting structural timber,” said James Souter, structural engineering director at Elliott Wood,

“The scale of the opportunity we’re addressing is huge, and we need to bring all the right people together to address the different facets collectively. Gaining the backing of Built by Nature is a major step forward in making the guide a reality, we’re over the moon to be taking this project forward.”