Industry News

Response to Future Homes Standard 2019 consultation

1.    We warmly welcome the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government invitation to respond to changes in Part L (conservation of fuel and power) and Part F (ventilation) of the Building Regulations for new dwellings.

2.    The Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) is an umbrella organization which represents the £10bn timber supply chain, essential to the employment of around 200,000 people. 

3.    As an integral member of the construction industry, and advocates for sustainably sourced timber, we will help the Government reach its ambitious housing and climate targets.

4.    We note the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) has highlighted the built environment contributes up to 40% of the UK’s total carbon emissions – a figure which includes both embodied and operational carbon.

5.    The CTI believes that meeting the significant carbon reductions required to achieve net zero emissions by 2050, there must be a significant transformation of the construction industry, and current outputs, to both lift productivity, as well as the quality and efficiency of houses built.

6.    This means we agree on principle that new build housing must be built to higher energy efficiency standards.

7.    Ultimately failure to build houses to a higher standard now will result in higher end costs for future consumers, with the CCC showing in their report that retrofitting dwellings can cost up to five times the cost of designing in appropriate standards from the start.

8.    It would be fiscally irresponsible to pass this burden forward, with a period of increases in regulatory requirements around energy efficiency already being planned in order to reach net zero by 2050 – and Government must not miss this opportunity.

9.    We are concerned that the Government is poised to miss an opportunity to transform the industry by not extending its legislative focus to deal with embodied carbon - related to the emissions from the construction of buildings.

10.    Many local authorities already include a whole life carbon assessment to account for the carbon embedded in the development, such as the Greater London Authority, and the Government should set a minimum baseline across the country - while allowing local authorities to push beyond those standards.

11.    We wish to draw the attention of the Government to two key pieces of research into embodied carbon and the use of sustainable timber:

12.    In our recent report with the APPG for the Timber Industries, How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis, we include many case studies of homes built to high energy efficiency standards with reduced embodied carbon by using sustainably sourced timber.

13.    There are methods for measuring the embodied carbon of projects, such as the ‘Whole life carbon assessment for the built environment’ developed by the Royal Institute for Chartered Surveyors.

14.    Industry leaders are increasingly considering embodied carbon, for example RIBA’s Architects Declare seeks a reduction in embodied carbon of at least 50-70% before offsetting through renewable energy projects or certified woodland or reforestation projects. 

15.    We are concerned that the lack of inclusion of a plan to tackle embodied carbon, and absence from the Future Homes Standards and in resulting consultations will mean this legislation is not sufficient to tackle the climate crisis.

16.    We would also like to express our agreement with the Cabinet Paper on Energy Efficiency: building towards net zero, p.123, which asserts the necessity of Government intervention to raise standards in the market and provide a level playing field.

“However, we are disappointed that we may have to wait until 2025 for homes to be built with “world-leading levels of efficiency” when the UK’s two largest housebuilders confirmed they do not require a long lead in time to deliver higher standards. Barratt and Persimmon said that higher standards could viably be delivered within 18 months. But with profit margins and shareholder returns the overriding priority for the majority of large housebuilders, they will not upgrade their standards without being required to do so by regulation. We recognise that there are some more progressive housebuilders who have indicated willingness to deliver higher standards at scale, but there is no commercial case to do so without a level playing field among all developers.”

17.    Providing a level playing field with legislatively embedded performance-based targets for the construction industry would encourage market competition, innovation, speed up the pace of change, and reduce the overall carbon footprint of construction.

18.    Currently more than 50,000 homes in the UK are built using timber frame, but there is significant variation in the use of timber in the UK (83% of new housing starts in Scotland using timber frame, compared to 30.7% in Wales, 22.8% in England, and 17.4% in Northern Ireland)

19.    Increasing the use of sustainable timber in construction has been recognized as a key method of reducing carbon emissions by the CCC in the UK Housing: Fit for the future report, by the Royal Institute of Engineers and Royal Academy in the Greenhouse Gas Removal report, and internationally by the United Nations in the Emissions Gap – Report 2019.

20.    The Structural Timber Association estimates there is existing capacity to double the number of homes built using timber frame to 100,000 homes. 

21.    This demonstrates there exists both the technology, means and capacity to solve both the housing and climate crises.

22.    In the APPG report, How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis, a series of recommendations for both national and local governments were introduced which would help create a business environment and better support the construction industry to shift to the use of sustainable material such as timber. 

23.    On a further note, we would like to express concern that the current regulatory system for building standards does not have the legislative tools (such as penalties or sanctions) or the independence from the private market to ensure building standards are upheld.

24.    If the Government seeks to raise standards, as well as support for industry, there must be an accompanying uplift in regulatory activity to ensure that these standards are met. 

Key recommendations:

  • We recommend the Government expand the focus of Future Homes Standard legislation to include embodied carbon.
  • We recommend the Government ensure that there is an appropriate regulatory regime in place to ensure that standards are upheld by the industry.
  • We recommend the Government implement the recommendations of the APPG for the Timber Industries report on How the timber industries can help solve the housing crisis.

Timber is essential to zero-carbon bio-economy

New Book – Wood: Building the BioEconomy – shows how the EU can reduce emissions while increasing output.

CEI Bois, the pan-European trade body for the timber supply chain, is calling on politicians to put wood at the centre of plans to reduce emissions and achieve zero carbon targets. 

CEI Bois has released a new publication, Wood: Building the Bioeconomy which shows how the EU can reduce emissions by using low carbon, renewable, biological alternatives such as timber over high carbon materials such as concrete, steel and plastic.

The book shows this would be good not just for the climate, but also the economy. Increasing the use of European wood-based products in global construction, textile and plastics markets could generate as much as €60bn of revenue.

“If we are to restore balance in the atmosphere, we need to reduce emissions in the first place, while also increasing the capacity of the global carbon sink,” said Patrizio Antonicoli, Secretary General of pan-EU industry body CEI Bois. 

“Forests and timber are part of both solutions, absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, and storing it as wood. Timber harvested from the forests can be turned into high-value products for construction using only a fraction of the energy and carbon that other materials would need.”  

“The more Governments across the continent can support and invest in wood, the more valuable this bioeconomy can become, helping to reverse the adverse climate and environmental impacts of human activity, and meet our obligations under the Paris agreement.”

EU forests provide a net sink of around 424 million tonnes of carbon dioxide every year, equivalent to around 10% of the total GHG emissions of Europe. Thanks to sustainable forest management by the industry, this massive carbon sink has grown by 9% in area as compared to 25 years ago.  

A total of 43% of the EU is now covered in trees, supporting the livelihood of around 3 million people, with forest producing around 470 million m3 of roundwood and building thousands of homes which are high quality, warm, and sustainable.

The development of cross-laminated timber (CLT) means timber can be have a higher strength to weight ratio than steel and the fire resistance to be used in high rise buildings, and universities and businesses continue to innovate to make it even more versatile.

As a material lends timber lends already itself to modern methods of construction, such as offsite, with timber frame able to be built up to a third quicker than other methods using brick and masonry and producing up to 90% less waste.

Download a free copy of Wood: Building the BioEconomy here.

CTI brings industry and politics together at Labour conference

Left to right: Cllr Hamish MacLeod, Katherine Dunne, David Hopkins, and Cllr Heather Johnson

Both national and local politicians now better recognise the benefits of a stronger partnership between government and the timber industry, following a Confederation of Timber Industries sit down with Labour in Brighton to discuss how timber can help solve the housing crisis.

Politicians present included Chi Onwurah, MP, and Shadow Minister for Industrial Strategy, as well as Councilor Leo Pollak of Southwark, Councilor Heather Johnson of Camden, and Councilor Katherine Dunne of Hounslow.

Each was welcomed by Hamish MacLeod, Director of Public Affairs with BSW Timber, and David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation, who elaborated on the recent inquiry into housing by the APPG for the Timber Industries, and answered questions.

On a national scale, CTI was pleased to see Ms Onwurah discuss bringing forward an industrial strategy specifically for timber, which acknowledges the importance of growing UK forests and building sustainably in an evolving green economy.

The successful growth of UK Forestry, which accounts for 40% of the volume traded in the UK, was discussed by Mr MacLeod to the politicians who wanted to know what species are being grown, it’s effect on biodiversity, and visions for the future of UK forestry.

He was able to allay some of the concerns regarding biodiversity by both acknowledging the trade-offs made by commercial forestry, as well as to the advancement of forestry techniques, which uses technology, restrictions on monocultures, and is compelled to grow 15% native forests.

Misconceptions regarding the fire performance of timber were also discussed by Councilor’s Pollak, Dunne and Johnson, who raised the difficulty they face post Grenfell in reassuring residents.

Mr Hopkins pointed out that many residents across the UK already unknowingly live in timber buildings, whether they look to their stairs, windows or the furniture in their living rooms, or even to the frame of their house underneath hidden behind a brick façade – all performing well.

When built well, and within the proper specifications, the evidence did not show any increase in risk to life in homes or apartments built with timber over other materials.

Most of the local politicians had been drawn to attend by the sustainability aspects of building in timber, with the impact of major construction projects in their areas top of mind after each had declared climate emergencies.

The timber industry must engage with local councils who are right now building houses around the country, who can be enthusiastic champions, and are able to make a significant impact through their policies – as had been demonstrated by Hackney.

Follow up and engagement opportunities between the CTI and local councils was raised by both parties, with agreement that more needed to be done to highlight the positive tale of timber in the UK. Reflecting on the event, David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation, said:

“We know there is a strong story for the timber industry to tell in terms of construction, skills, and sustainability, and now is the time for businesses to work together to ensure that we align to get a consistent message to all UK politicians – which we will do with this housing report.

“Politicians are interested in building with timber, but it will be up to us to make sure they have the tools and information close to hand to talk to their constituents, and opportunities to work with the housing associations, developers and architects who are determined to change construction.”

Research shows tree planting 'most effective solution' to combatting climate change

A recently published study has found that largescale tree planting around the world is the most effective method of combatting climate change.

The researchers found through their analysis that once desert, agricultural and urban areas were excluded, there was 0.9 billion hectares with potential to be reforested.

Planting trees in these areas has the potential to reduce CO2 in the atmosphere by 25%, or 200 gigatonnes, once these forests reached maturity.

You can read the full study in Science Magazine, The global tree restoration potential, where the results were first published in July 2019.

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Forest stakeholders call for a stronger EU Forest Strategy to reach UN and Paris Agreement goals

Last December, the European Commission published a progress report on the implementation of the EU Forest Strategy, discussed by the European Parliament in January.

This report comes at a time when forests and the forestbased sector are recognised as essential players in responding to major societal and environmental challenges.

In a round table organised on 4th February, the European forest-based sector conveyed a joint and clear message: an updated and stronger EU Forest Strategy is needed to ensure that in the coming decades forestrelated EU policies are better coordinated and endorse sustainable forest management and the multifunctional role of forests in a consistent way.

Forests and the forest-based sector are increasingly expected to deliver on recent and coming horizontal and sectoral EU policies (e.g: the Renewable Energy Directive; the updated EU Bioeconomy Strategy; the LULUCF Regulation; the future Common Agricultural Policy; Sustainable Investments).

A coalition of forest and forest-based sector associations - including CEI-Bois, CEPF, CEPI, COPA COGECA, EUSTAFOR, UEF and FECOF - have brought together around 60 representatives from EU institutions, the Romanian Presidency of the Council, research and stakeholders to exchange views on the future of the EU Forest Strategy and explore possible ways forward to strengthen sustainable forest management in EU forest-related policies.

During the discussion, several stakeholders highlighted that the Commission progress report refrains from making concrete recommendations for the post 2020 period and reiterated their call for an updated and stronger EU Forest Strategy to provide consistency among EU policies.

Mr Ionel Popa, a representative of the Romanian Presidency, indicated that the Council is working on its conclusions on the progress report that will also cover the role of the EU Forest Strategy beyond 2020. Ms Jytte Guteland, Member of the European Parliament, stated that “the EU Forest Strategy should help to develop common ideas on sustainable forest management in order to ensure consistency when working on EU policies dealing with forests”. Mr Nils Torvalds, Member of the European Parliament commented: “Forestry can play a great role in achieving climate change objectives, but it can’t do this alone.”


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