CTI News & Events

Timber industry welcomes housing pledges, calls for greater use of low carbon materials

The Confederation of Timber industries (CTI) welcomes recent housing pledges made by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, and calls for these homes to be built using low carbon materials.

Labour has committed to building 100,000 council homes and “at least” 50,000 affordable homes via housing associations a year by the end of parliament in its election manifesto published today.

This follows the Liberal Democrats manifesto pledge to deliver 100,000 social rent units a year and require all new homes to reach Passivhaus standards from 2025 announced yesterday.

Funding of the Lib Dem house building programme will be part of a planned £130 billion package of infrastructure investment, while Labour will pull from a £150 billion Social Transformation Fund.

Roy Wakeman, Chair of the Confederation of Timber Industries, said:

“The timber industry welcomes the recent statements of intent from political parties in their manifestos to significantly expand housebuilding programmes over the course of the next Parliament.

“We now call for all parties to take their commitments a step further and pledge to build these homes using low carbon materials, which will help drive and accelerate change in the construction industry to achieve its carbon emissions targets.

“Construction is directly responsible for 10% of all GHG emissions in the UK, but if we substitute energy-intensive materials like cement and steel for sustainable timber we can shift the needle.

“As was made clear in the recent report by the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Timber Industries, timber is the only proven solution which can allow us to build houses quicker and to higher quality standards, all the while lowering our carbon emissions.

“This has been called the first ‘climate change election’, and as an industry we are advocating for any major new house building programmes initiated by the UK Government in 2020 to be tied to the UK’s zero carbon targets.

“We strongly encourage all of the political parties to get behind the recommendations of the APPG and embrace solutions which will tackle both our housing and climate crises.”

How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis

A report launched today by the All-Party Parliamentary Group for the Timber Industries (APPG), highlights the key role timber industries can play in helping the Government meet its targets for housebuilding whilst working to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

The report argues that using timber in construction is key to meeting emissions targets, and urges the Government to implement the recommendations of the Climate Change Committee by increasing the use of timber in construction.

A long-term spending commitment, reform of right-to-buy and building regulations that encourage innovation in construction are amongst the recommendations to the Government made in the report. Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) have long featured in the timber industry. Timber frames are built using offsite construction methods, and are quicker, cheaper, quieter and more environmentally friendly than traditional construction methods.

In order to meet the skills requirement needed to build more homes, the report recommends that Government should place an increased emphasis on construction apprentices and invest in developing construction courses, bringing together skills development with technological solutions.

Martin Whitfield MP, chair, APPG, said:

“This report addresses an important dilemma governments have: increase housebuilding whilst reducing carbon emissions. The timber industry will provide skilled jobs, it can deliver sustainable and affordable homes and it should be at the forefront of addressing the climate emergency we face.

“Housebuilding should be part of an environmental revolution that is firmly integrated into our net-zero emissions targets. Using timber will lock carbon within homes for generations and is considerably more environmentally friendly than other core building materials such as concrete.”

Roy Wakeman OBE, chair of the Confederation of Timber Industries, said:

“We know there is capacity in the industry which can be unlocked with the right policies, regulatory framework, and partnership between the public and private sectors. By bringing together experts from across the timber supply chain - all the way from the forest to the finished house - we will be able to make an even greater contribution.”

The report follows a UK-wide inquiry the APPG launched to explore how the timber industry can contribute towards solving the housing crisis.

Download the report here.

CTI statement on the performance of wood cladding in a fire

The outcome of the UK government’s assessment last year of the use of different cladding materials in the wake of the Grenfell tragedy confirmed that timber, where necessary enhanced with flame retardant, remains fit for purpose where the upper floor level of a building where the upper floor level is less than 18m above ground (Building Regulations England). In all situations where Building Regulations stipulate a particular reaction to fire performance level for materials on the external face of a multi-storey residential building below this level, then those performance levels must be complied with.
 
However, Building Regulations guidance does not always stipulate a particular reaction to fire performance for cladding and/or balconies on buildings where the upper floor level is less than 18m above ground. In such circumstances, so as to provide consistency, insurance and peace of mind against unforeseen circumstances, an independent, professional fire risk assessment which takes into account the building design, use, materials and location is essential at the project design stage. Indeed, this has been a principle embodied in the CDM Regulations for some years which has very recently been reinforced by MHCLG in a circular letter to Building Control in England & Wales.

Such an assessment may demonstrate that, by means of careful design and component specification, flame retardant treatment is unnecessary in the particular circumstances. However, following recent reviews and from industry feedback on new projects, the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) recommend that all such timber based cladding and balcony components should be treated using a quality assured factory-applied flame retardant to Euroclass B, unless shown not to be necessary by an appropriate risk assessment process.

Timber remains an excellent material for manufacture and construction, but proper risk assessment, specification and detailing are paramount to ensuring safety whatever the build method.

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-statement-performance-wood-cladding-fire]

Combustible Materials Response, Implications for Timber Industry

Last week, the Government announced an amendment to part B of the building regulations which has implications for timber components of buildings in and on external walls.

The regulations specify that for all residential developments above 18m, all materials in or on the external wall must be of European Classification A2-s1, d0 or Class A1, classified in accordance with BS EN 13501-1:2007+A1:2009.

This includes external cladding and facade systems above that height, as well as structural timber components within the external wall.

David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) said: “While it is disappointing that the Government has taken this approach, it is not that surprising.

“Flame retardant timber cladding remains incredibly popular and the consultation response has confirmed its’ suitability for all building types below 18 metres. We look forward to helping grow the market for this versatile, environmentally positive material now that clarity has been provided.

“For other structural timber such as cross-laminated timber (CLT), it is clear that architects and designers may now have to look at new design strategies for the external wall build ups in taller buildings. However, CLT has not been banned. It is still a perfectly safe, viable building material for a huge variety of projects.  The UK remains a global leader in timber design and construction so this regulation is likely act as a spur to further innovation.

“The move toward timber design and construction is a huge movement and it is unlikely that this change to regulation will halt that. There is still an enormous market for structural timber design and that will continue.

“Globally, the USA is amending its building code to allow buildings up to 18 storeys using engineered timber; Australia has recently announced its latest tallest timber tower; and new buildings from mass timber are being unveiled across Europe on a regular basis.

“Offsite timber construction remains the fastest growing sector for building in the UK, certainly for housebuilding, and will continue to be so due to its practical and environmental advantages.

“We will continue to promote the positive benefits of timber construction, including its fire safety performance, to all stakeholders including Government as we build our timber future.”

Read the “Technical Notice” on Changes to Building Regulations Approved Document B and Approved Document 7 here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/combustible-materials-response-implications-timber-industry]

CTI Briefing Paper highlights potential Timber Industry losses due to Combustible Materials Ban

The Confederation of Timber Industries has produced a briefing paper summarising its view on two major topics of discussion such as Combustible Materials Ban and Fire Safety.

The factsheet focuses on possible actions the Government could take to improve fire safety of buildings by setting a clear regulatory framework.

The paper also warns of the "unforeseen consequences to homeowners and the construction industry" that an indiscriminate ban on combustible materials could trigger and recommends the establishment of a "licensing system for use of materials."

"In order to improve the safety of buildings, the Government must ensure that any new regime is both enforceable and enforced," says the paper. "Arguably one of the challenges to date has been lack of adherence to and enforcement of, existing building regulations and guidance. There has also been some confusion and a lack of clarity in the existing regulatory framework. Unless there is a cultural shift, any changes to the regulatory framework will not have the intended effect of making buildings safer.  

"As the London Fire Brigade said in its response to the Government’s consultation on banning combustible materials: 'a ban requires careful consideration to ensure there are not unintended consequences.”

"We therefore believe that a licensing system for use of materials – rather than an outright ban – is likely to be a more effective means of ensuring buildings are as safe as possible."

On the extent of combustible materials ban, the CTI "supports changes to limit the use of (and in some cases ban) combustible materials in taller buildings. However, the Government has not been clear regarding whether or not it intends any changes to apply simply to cladding, or to the structural wall in its entirety.

"If the scope of the ban were to include the structural wall as well as the cladding wall, then the impact will be a massive limitation in access to the materials available for building and the stifling of innovation, investment and employment."   

Download the briefing paper here.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-briefing-paper-highlights-potential-timber-industry-losses-due-combustible-materials-ban]

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