AMBITION around timber in construction "must be turned into action", an industry leader has said. 

David Hopkins, chief executive of Timber Development UK, has called on the UK's politicians to "be brave enough to create a framework which places value on low-carbon construction". 

Urging for a "clear timeline for change", his demand comes shortly after the government unveiled its Timber in Construction (TiC) Roadmap, which aims to safely increase the use of timber in construction.

David said: “What we need to see this year is ambition turned to action. This means forward looking policy – and politicians brave enough to create a framework which places value on low-carbon construction.

“Timber is the ultimate low-carbon material, and countries across the developed world have rightly recognized this – working to create comprehensive policy frameworks that support the growth of the timber industry.

“The UK Government’s roadmap is a fantastic starting point, but without more action, there is a risk the UK falls behind. We need a clear timeline for change, starting with limits on embodied carbon in buildings, which is currently unregulated." 

Forestry Journal: David HopkinsDavid Hopkins

David was speaking to mark the launch of a new study on policies from across the globe which encourage the use of timber in construction.

Timber Policy can act as a powerful tool to support policy makers on their journey to decarbonise construction in the UK, and beyond.

It was commissioned by TDUK and written by Waugh Thistleton Architects. 

David added: “Embodied carbon can account for more than half of the emissions of a building over its lifetime - hundreds of thousands of tonnes of carbon per year - but this is currently ignored by UK politicians and policy makers.

“Our new book, commissioned by TDUK and written by Waugh Thistleton Architects, highlights the policies being put in place in a variety of countries around the world.

“The UK Government, if they are serious about achieving the goals of their roadmap, now need to look at what policies would work in the UK. We hope that these examples give food for thought and we can start to engage policy makers on making this happen, rather than simply relying on the market to change." 

Andrew Waugh, director and co-founder, Waugh Thistleton Architects, said: “While the UK once led the world in mass timber construction, recent years have seen a shift in global leadership. Recent assessments, such as the Climate Change Committee's critique of the UK Government's Carbon Budget Delivery Plan, highlight the urgent need for accelerated policy development in the UK.

“While we commend initiatives like the Timber in Construction Roadmap, our research for Timber Policy reveals that current UK efforts fall short of addressing the urgency of the climate crisis. Bold leadership, as demonstrated by progressive nations such as France, Germany, The Netherlands and Denmark, mandating limits on embodied carbon and investing in sustainable timber projects, is essential for a meaningful transition to a low-carbon future. 

"The Roadmap sets out timelines to consider options, encourage voluntary reporting, and seek advice, after which revisions to policy will be put in place. The Timber Policy Guide shows how this process has already happened in the six example countries and policies which have already been implemented."

This is the second in a trio of essential books, with the first edition Timber Typologies providing clarity on different timber systems. The final book in the series, Timber LCA, will demystify lifetime carbon analysis for timber buildings.
Collectively, these books are intended to act as a stimulus for action – in the UK, and beyond.

For more, visit TDUK's website