Brisbane 2032 Olympic Decision Makers Discuss Timber & Carbon

The Timber 2032 Forum emphasises the once in a generation legacy of the climate-positive games.

Tue 22 Aug 23


Queensland Government officials and timber representatives met in Brisbane to discuss the use of mass timber construction ahead of the Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

The Timber 2032 Forum hosted by Timber Queensland and the Australian Research Council Advance Timber Hub also discussed using non-mass timber products and establishing timber plantations to achieve a “climate positive” Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In June, the Queensland Government supported investment in engineered wood products (mass timber) and their use in constructing Olympic Venues.

This includes the Athletes Village, with Bart Mellish, the Minister representing the Premier, telling the Doing Timber Business in Queensland Sympoisum that “using timber for the Athletes’ Village could achieve a dual legacy as a sustainable venue and as lasting affordable accommodation.”

Updated renders from the Brisbane 2032 Olympic Village will be located in Hamilton, Northshore precinct. (Photo Credit: Queensland State Government)

Timber 2032 Forum host Clarissa Brandt said, “The natural warmth and beauty of wood can enhance the overall atmosphere of the venues and athlete villages.”

According to Ms Brandt, the Strategic Relations and Communications Manager for Timber Queensland, the Games allow the industry to shine alongside its athletes.

“Our beautiful hardwood and softwood timbers are the gold medal solution to lowering emissions and reducing embodied carbon in construction.”

“Timber 2032 Forum attendees will also gain insights into another winning aspect of using timber; the health and wellbeing benefits associated with timber buildings to improve Olympic athletes, and subsequent residents, mental state, stress levels and performance.”

An artist's impression of the new Gabba, from the outside, for the 2032 Olympic Games. Dated February 2023. (Image Credit: Supplied by Queensland Government)
The push for mass timber adoption is growing with an alliance of Australia’s leading architects pushing for the adoption of mass timber in the redeveloped Olympic Stadium over the Gabba site. Render of the proposed Gabba Stadium provided February 2023. (Image Credit: Supplied by Queensland Government)

The forum had a strong carbon focus, with natural capital investment and embodied carbon among themes discussed during the morning session. 

Wood Central was provided a copy of the program, which can be downloaded here.

Earlier this year, the Queensland Government, in collaboration with the AIS, Queensland Academy of Sport and Athletics Australia, delivered a new Timber Pavillion using Queensland glulam. 

The award-winning pavilion – which will train the next generation of shot put, discus, javelin, hammer throw and decathlon stars – was the southern hemisphere’s first elite facility to achieve net-zero certification.

The facility is considered a test case for the Brisbane games, the first to follow IOC’s now-mandated climate-positive games requirements.

The Throws Pavillion used mass timber and low-carbon concrete to achieve net-zero certification. (Photo Credit: Supplied by Queensland Academy of Sport).

The pavilion used glulam supplied by Hyne Timber and Xlam with Shane Robertson, General Manager of Xlam, one of several panel members participating in the panel session, “Prior preparation: understanding the realities of timber construction to ensure positive outcomes.”

“From carbon sequestration to locally grown and manufactured timber, mass timber solutions for Athletes’ Villages, stadiums, and other Olympic infrastructure are the perfect solution to deliver carbon-positive games with a lasting legacy,” Mr Roberston said.

The new $2.7m Queensland Academy of Sports Indoor National Throws Centre of Excellence used glulam supplied from Queensland pine plantations, processed, manufactured and delivered by Hyne Timber. (Photo Credit: Angus Martin)
The new $2.7m Queensland Academy of Sports Indoor National Throws Centre of Excellence used glulam supplied from Queensland pine plantations, processed, manufactured and delivered by Hyne Timber. (Photo Credit: Angus Martin)

However, Mr Robertson said to achieve success, “Timber needs to be specified from the onset followed by the engagement of experts in the field.”

“You can’t design a building in concrete and steel then attempt to convert it to timber and still gain the many benefits including design and cost efficiencies which largely come from the prefabrication, lighter weight material and speed of construction.”

Amongst the morning presenters included Jason Wilson, CEO of HQPlantations, who spoke of the value of natural capital investment and plantation establishment in delivering an enduring legacy.

HQPlantations manages over 320,000 hectares of plantation forests throughout Queensland. These plantations produce up to 2.3 million cubic metres of logs annually, supporting domestic and export industries. 

Footage courtesy of @hqplantations.

Ms Brandt said the Queensland Government’s Brisbane 2032 Legacy Plan defines how to drive economic, social and environmental outcomes that ensure lasting benefits before, during and after the Games.

“Planting production trees ticks all the boxes for delivering a climate-positive legacy.” 

A Legacy Plantation would, according to Ms Brandt, deliver carbon sequestration to offset Olympic infrastructure construction and grow regional jobs now and into the future.

It would also assist in addressing Queensland’s looming shortage of structural timbers.

“To put this in perspective – by 2035, Queensland will face a timber production shortfall for house frames equivalent to the size of Cairns, because we don’t have the trees growing in the ground right now to meet that demand. The shortfall gap will only get worse if action is not taken.

“Today is the perfect opportunity for Government decision-makers to reflect on the important role of timber and wood in everyday lives as well as how it will be utilised for Brisbane 2032.”

Publisher note

Less than a year before the 2024 Olympic Games begins, the Brisbane organisers can take inspiration from Paris, which is entering the final straight of a marathon which has seen all but one of the 35 venues upcycled for the games.

In a significant shift in emphasis, 95% of the venues in Paris will be existing or temporary, with only the athletes’ village and aquatics centre constructed from scratch. 

Paris is using its world-famous landmarks as venues to lessen its carbon footprint. Footage courtesy of @TODAY.

That means the Games’ planned budget of €8 billion is considerably less than that of London, Rio or Tokyo.

Under French law, all new public buildings must use timber as their primary building material.

The Aquatics Centre and Athletes Village are the only venues for the Games required to meet this regulation; however, several venues are undergoing timber makeovers.

These include the Champs de Mars Arena, the Georges-Vallerey Pool and the Athletes Village – the inspiration for Brisbane’s Athletes Village.


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