Growing wood knowledge will grow the market

Growing wood knowledge will grow the market


The problems of the 21st century are deeply interconnected, particularly when it comes to building for climate change. Key to achieving net zero in our built environment will be people.

The challenge of educating and developing this workforce is deeply intertwined with the future of the timber industry as a sustainable commodity.

If we want to see more timber projects in the UK, we need to have a labour market able to comfortably build in timber and able to work together to create quality, safe and low-carbon buildings using wood. Yet, as it stands, university education often segregates and divides professions. The result is siloed thinking which holds us back and perpetuates business as usual. This cannot be acceptable if we are to overcome the climate challenge.

Our University Engagement Programme (UEP) is working hard to bring timber to the forefront of university education, and to get our future professionals to collaborate. This work takes our UEP manager Tabitha Binding up and down the country. While in the COVID-era much more of this work has been done via Zoom, she has been forging ahead to build greater connections between universities, HECs, lecturers and businesses to produce the next generation of talent for timber and construction.

A great piece of work she writes on today looks to a project with Herriot Watt University, who have been designing and building innovative prefabricated homes using CLT panels made with Scottish timber. With a focus on sustainability and innovation, these students are now looking to present their learnings as part of an international competition.

With the Riverside Sunderland University Design Challenge (RSUDC21) we showed the possibilities of working with timber to dozens of universities and hundreds of students as they formed multi-disciplinary teams of architects, engineers, cost consultants and landscape architects – and designed 100 homes on the Riverside Sunderland site and one 3-bed home in detail. The results speak for themselves

There is a strong desire within the construction industry to understand timber, carbon emissions, health, wellbeing, and energy efficiency. We saw this in tghe RSUDC21 webinar series. While RSUDC21 was one of the most visible outreach efforts of UEP, this is only one of a host of initiatives which we are excited to expand as we grow to fully encompass the timber supply chain as Timber Development UK.

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