The white paper (ttjonline story) was published earlier this month with input from 24 major UK insurers and recommends that hybrid structures combining traditional and modern method of construction may represent the best route forward to satisfying multiple considerations including insurance risks and carbon reduction.

‘Insurance Challenges of Massive and Mass Timber Construction’ looked at insurance challenges of newer proposed building methods with a view to assisting future dialogue in creating buildings that meet all needs of safety, carbon reduction, and resilience to the insured perils of fire, escape of water and flood. 

Andrew Carpenter, CEO of the STA, said the STA had always been an emphatic advocate of selecting the right product for the correct application. 

“We believe that a sensible and pragmatic approach to increasing the use of structural timber is the best route forward for lowering the embodied carbon in construction,” he said.

“Of course, the STA believe timber to be an exceptional building material, but it must still be used appropriately, and our overarching goal is to improve the understanding surrounding timber and its construction benefits. 

“However, we also believe in providing impartial evidence and facts that aid specifiers in making the correct choice for their projects. Timber, concrete, glass and steel all have their own set of qualities that make them suited to different aspects of building construction. So, it's logical that the optimal building construction plan would include a combination of all materials used collaboratively to meet the client requirements.”

The STA responded to the white paper’s content on fire and flood risks by saying the STA has always endorsed timber based on research, evidence and testing that demonstrates the resolutions for protecting timber from fire and flood risks.

The STA has invested over £300,000 in researching the fire resilience of lightweight structural timber systems, with the research downloadable from the STA website.

Currently in progress is another £500k of fire testing, which has been funded collaboratively by all the core mass timber suppliers and manufacturers that are members of the STA. The testing will be completed later in the year; however, the ongoing results are published on its website, which can be found

The STA has also previously published a document named 16 Steps to Fire Safety, which endorses good fire safety practices on construction sites and is compulsory for STA building system supply members. 

“We are now developing a similar publication to address the risks surrounding water damage and moisture ingress of timber. This publication aims to highlight any potential risks, demonstrating how suitable design can alleviate and overcome these risks, thus creating a best practice guide for construction sites.”

The water damage risks document will be completed by STA’s recently established Durability Working Group, and will also acknowledge that not all durability risks can be entirely allayed, thus requiring suitable monitoring technology. This group will review these technology options and is currently in contact with the Canadian Wood Council, which has several buildings being monitored in the same way.

“However, we understand that insurance companies must also receive assurances that the material is suitable and safe and that installers are compliant in design and construction quality. To provide these assurances, we have developed schemes such as STA Assure, which is recognised by seven of the UK's leading building warranty providers.

“The route to achieving an STA Assure compliance certification requires a Timber Frame Competency Award Scheme and the Site Safe fire risk under construction mitigation process, which is conducted through an audit. The STA welcomes further communication and discussion with stakeholders throughout partner and insurance sectors to achieve the primary goal of delivering lower carbon buildings.