Ecobuild 2018 - the year of timber

Published Monday 09th April 2018

Last month construction, development and timber specialists from across the country descended on the Excel Centre in London for the annual Ecobuild conference. With seminars sponsored by The Structural Timber Association and an obvious cultural shift towards timber-engineered buildings, timber was a key topic and the potential it currently has in building was made clear across the three-day conference.

In this report, we are going to look at the key themes that were discussed at the Ecobuild conference and take a deeper look at timber’s position within the construction industry.

 

Healthcare

Construction in the healthcare sector was a key topic debated amongst timber professionals. With this particular sector coming under increasing financial pressure, the potential of timber to ease these pressures was unlocked at the Ecobuild conference. Several different healthcare projects were looked at which illustrated how to apply timber technology to deliver a sustainable, energy efficient and cost effective contemporary building that could be replicated across the healthcare sector for years to come.

This isn’t a new idea however – in 2013 a state-of-the-art mental health facility being built in Sunderland commissioned the supply of external timber walls for Ryhope Hospital.

It’s great to see this movement being driven forward and we’re excited to see how timber’s position within the healthcare industry will grow.

 

Housing

The second day of Ecobuild saw a shift in topic to private housing and the use of timber in the education sector. Talks were given by Andrew Carpenter, CEO of Structural Timber Association and Ian Killick, ShedKM Architects, who highlighted that the volume of construction and smaller developments using Accoya, CLT and Glulam to create sustainable, energy efficient and desirable places to live was on the rise.

A number of projects were presented that showed timber’s ability to cater for both mass market consumption or individual housing projects – by 2017, 27% of housing was estimated to be timber-framed – and this will drastically reduce carbon footprint, which is at the heart of EcoBuild.

 

Education

The Priority School Building Programme was also top of the agenda on this three-day conference. Set to run until 2021 with the aim of rebuilding or refurbishing a total of 537 primary, secondary and special education needs schools across England, this Ecobuild seminar provided a platform for construction professionals, architects, engineers and contractors to come together and discuss topics including the latest offsite modular timber solutions across the education sector.

Using timber in education-based construction has been seen on a large scale in the past year, with Brock Commons in Vancouver developing the (then) tallest mass timber building in the world – and it also happened to be a student residential build. If Vancouver can use timber to drive forward the education sector in this way, the UK can certainly follow suit.

 

The future of timber

The conference concluded with a seminar on the growing popularity of engineered timber. Traditional building processes can be highly wasteful in terms of material and figures indicated that around 32% of landfill waste comes from the construction of new buildings. According to the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, the UK generated 202.8m tonnes of total waste in 2014 – over half of which (59.4 per cent) was owed to construction, demolition and excavation.

CLT, laminated veneer lumber and glued laminated timber can dramatically improve these statistics, producing significantly lower amounts of waste due to the factory-controlled methods of ordering and cutting materials to size, having excellent recyclable capabilities and the engineered properties that lend themselves to longevity.

 

And that’s it!

Ecobuild shone a spotlight on the leaps and bounds we can make within the construction industry if we give a greater focus to timber. If you have any questions, contact us on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook so we can discuss this incredible event.

If you work within the construction industry, or have any timber needs for your own build, get in touch and we’ll be able to help you out!