Work has begun to create a free online information hub containing all of the environmental and design data necessary for project managers, designers and architects to specify timber as a first choice material.
The hub will be called Wood First Plus, and has been organised by Wood for Good, the UK timber industry promotion and sustainability group, supported by Scottish Enterprise, the Timber Trade Federation, Forestry Commission Scotland and the Timber Research and Development Association.
Building on the arguments of the Wood First campaign, which aims to position timber as a first-choice ‘primary and preferred construction material’, Wood First Plus will provide evidence of the credentials of timber from cradle to grave.
The project is a result of on-going consultation with timber industry organisations and external stakeholders, including contractors groups, architects, professional institutions and many others.
All stakeholders will be able to access whole-life information on timber products free of charge through a dedicated website, managed by Wood for Good.
Individual timber companies will be able to use this data as a basis to develop specific environmental product declarations (EPD) for their products to guarantee their sustainability and traceability.
David Hopkins, Wood for Good’s head of external communications, said: “With the built environment sector now firmly focused on delivering low-carbon, sustainable buildings, being able to quantify the environmental impact of construction materials is becoming increasingly important.
“The aim for Wood First Plus is to provide empirical evidence on the performance of specific wood products, making it easier for construction professionals wishing to build with timber to do so, and helping them to adhere to industry regulations. We look forward to announcing the first set of results later this year.”
The use of wood in construction brings numerous benefits for the environment, the economy, and the community. Trees absorb CO2 and store it, and when used in construction form an important store of atmospheric carbon, helping to limit global warming.
With sustainably managed forests and increased use of timber in construction it is an endlessly renewable process.
Additionally, wood has good thermal performance properties, increasing the energy efficiency and operational performance of a building. Timber framed buildings are often quicker to erect saving on construction cost.
The organisation is also calling for a 'Wood First' stipulation in planning guidance that would require wood to be considered, where feasible, as the primary construction material in all publicly-funded new build and refurbishment projects, from housing to bridges to schools.
PE International has been engaged to oversee the collection, analysis and review of all life cycle assessment (LCA) data for a wide range of timber and timber products that will be used in the online tool.
The company has extensive experience in the construction materials sector and in working with the timber industry, having previously completed a major LCA project on US hardwood lumber for the American Hardwood Export Council.