That was the message from the first of a series of seminars organised by Wood for Good under its Growing Communities campaign to highlight timber’s potential to the building industry.

Held at the London Building Centre, the event attracted an audience of 70, including architects, contractors and local authority and housing association representatives.

In his presentation, Alex Goodfellow, managing director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems (SMTS), acknowledged that the timber frame housing sector "took a hit" in the recession, with production dropping from 46,000 dwellings in 2007 to 25,000 in 2012.
But latest forecasts point to a recovery by 2019 to 50,000 units, or 28% market share.

"We have the capacity and we’re going to benefit from green legislation, pressure on build rates and skills shortages in masonry," he said.

To illustrate timber buildings’ combination of build speed, high performance and environmental standards, he pointed to SMTS’s BREEAM outstanding-rated 1,000-bed student accommodation development at Bradford University, completed in 22 weeks.
Funding was also now readily available for timber frame, he added, and SMTS was working on its first project approved under the Build Offsite Property Assurance Scheme (BOPAS), which further facilitates mortgages.

John Bedford, head of project development at timber frame specialist Accord, focused on its suitability for offsite construction, which is set to be "increasingly favoured."

"Our factory manager is ex-Jaguar/Land Rover," he said. "It’s a manufactured solution."

Guy Taylor architects presented new alms houses it designed in Newark, with walls achieving a U-value of 0.14, as an example of how timber construction also combines superior energy performance with aesthetic flexibility.

Wood for Good director David Hopkins said Growing Communities’ aim was to underline the range of timber building business models and systems and "demonstrate its versatility as a solution across the market".

The next in the seminar series takes place on April 29.