Changing the climate for business

Changing the climate for business

BLOG · BY TTF CEO David Hopkins · 29 April 2020

The BBC’s decision to run regular reports on climate change issues from this January gives those of us in the timber supply and merchant sectors a wider opportunity to underline the benefits of using more wood in construction and interiors.

When the BBC decides to take up an issue for a whole year it’s a sign that society as a whole is demanding answers.  Its decision from this January to run regular reports on climate change issues gives those of us in the timber supply and merchant sectors a wider opportunity to underline the benefits of using more wood in construction and interiors.  Roughly one tonne of CO2 is stored for every 1m3 of timber used in construction.

RIBA, the Royal Institute of British Architects, declared a ‘climate emergency’ last summer, setting out a detailed plan to change architects’ business model towards designing more sustainable building.  The All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Timber Industries also weighed into this debate in mid-November, launching their report on how the timber sector can help solve the housing crisis, while simultaneously benefitting the climate crisis.  Ultimately this can only be good for timber sales.

The APPG Report says that government should implement the recommendations of the Committee on Climate Change, to increase the use of timber in construction.  It is a well-established fact that using timber wherever possible in building an average three-bedroom house (in the house frame, roof, floors, windows and doors) will capture and lock away approximately 19 tonnes of CO2.  If 270,000 of the government’s 300,000 home-building target were timber builds, approximately three million tonnes of CO2 could be stored.

The APPG’s report additionally recommends establishing a new framework for the rigorous assessment of whole life carbon in buildings.  It recommends to local government that it should include in every Council’s planning policy framework a preference for using the lowest embodied carbon materials.

All this is good news for the timber supply chain:  potentially more business for everyone, if we can all work together to promote the use of certified or licensed sustainably-grown wood.  The TTF held a Tropical Timber Forum at the end of October, which promoted understanding of the good work being done by tropical timber exporting countries under the EU’s FLEGT licensing system.  It gave the industry great hope that, through engagement with stakeholders from the forest to the building site, we are creating a reason for exporting countries to value their forests, and thus to be energised to replant and sustain their forest resources into the future.

At the same time, TTF is playing its part in educating those who teach architecture, construction, carpentry and joinery.  A Timber Day organised in February by our University & Regional Manager, for students and lecturers to bring themselves up to date on timber topics, is one of many avenues we must travel to promote timber’s sustainability credentials.

Creating a market for sustainably-grown timber is something in which builders’ merchants and timber traders alike can all play a part.  By taking positive business action to support forest owners and companies ‘doing the right thing’ by the world’s forests we are not only ensuring a great economic climate but also a great meteorological climate for generations of humankind still to come.