Biomass, material passports, and retrofit

Biomass, material passports, and retrofit


One of the benefits of the current tension between supply and demand is it has helped bring greater focus to giving construction products a second life. Ideas such as material passports, a concept aimed at improving the sustainability of construction projects by better identifying the materials in a building and their potential for reuse, are steadily gaining popularity.


Material passports have been advocated most recently by Shoreditch architectural practice, Orms, who put forward their own interpretation of this concept, and what it may look like, as they joined Building Magazine’s webinar earlier this week on ‘What can the industry do to best combat the materials shortages?’, which is now available on-demand for anyone interested.

In the timber industry, we want to ensure that our products are given the maximum life possible as building products to ensure they can be a long-term carbon store. This is why we should support these types of concepts and reuse generally; which we are set to do in response to the UK Government’s call for evidence on ‘The Role of Biomass in Achieving Net Zero.

Wherever pragmatic and without impacting product standards or safety, wood waste should be converted back into building products, rather than burnt for energy.

Reuse is of course also intertwined with another big ‘R’ – retrofit. It is a fact worth repeating that of the buildings that exist today in the UK, 80% will still exist in 2050.

This is why we are strongly supporting the Construction Leadership Council (CLC) National Retrofit Strategy, which has now been published as a second iteration. This strategy embraces a ‘fabric-first’ approach to retrofit, and seeks to create a twenty-year blueprint for how the construction industry can work with government to retrofit the UK’s 28 million existing homes.

The strategy recognises that buildings are a system, and must be treated as such – and that simply slapping electric heat pumps into draughty homes is not a ‘green revolution’, nor enough to solve our climate woes. Hopefully, with the CLC strategy, we have a better chance to move forward.

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