New Zealand has a new destination for timber information following the launch of ‘Timber Unlimited.‘
Formerly the Timber Design Centre, the new resource provides NZ building and construction professionals, including builders, designers, architects, engineers and quantity surveys, with timber-rich information.
The new initiative has the support of the NZ Government through the Forestry and Wood Processing Industry Innovation Plan.
Timber Unlimited offers research, technical expertise, tools, guidance and information, assisting in driving the adoption of wood across commercial, industry, multi-story and public projects.
According to Timber Unlimited Director Robert Finch, carbon emissions across construction have increased by 66% over the past decade, with the industry responsible for up to 20% of New Zealand’s total emissions.
This is supported by a recent report from the Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction, with the industry responsible for a widening gap between climate performance and the 2050 decarbonisation pathway.
With Scope 3 emissions, the target of developers looking to reduce the built environment’s impact on the climate.
“Using more timber in the design and construction of structure throughout the wider industry will markedly decrease emissions,” Mr Finch said.
“Through its ability to displace more carbon-intensive materials and store carbon dioxide within the wood itself.”
Mr Finch is supported by research from A Te Uru Rakau – New Zealand Forestry Service, which found “if the industry replaced around half of their current use of steel and concrete with timber, it could reduce our national embodied carbon dioxide emissions by half a billion tonnes each year.”
Timber Unlimited will dispel many myths about using Timber in New Zealand.
Through a programme called ‘Timber Decoded’, “we will help dispel common myths and preconceptions about timber,” Mr Finch said.
The new initiative was developed following careful research and listening to the needs of sector professionals and builders, Finch says.
“This gave us insight and information on how Timber Unlimited can positively influence perceptions.”
Importantly, it highlighted the perceived barriers to using wood, specifically in commercial construction.
“This information is critical for Timber Unlimited…creativity, confidence and, ultimately, a surge in its use throughout our industry.”
“Mass timber is not as commonplace as it could be,” according to Mr Finch, “due to lack of industry experience with it, misinformation, and perceptions such as believing it was too expensive, would not stand up to a fire or was not structurally as sound.”
According to Mr Finch, Timber is sustainable, easy to use and highly flexible in its uses and compares more favourably with other building materials in cost and strength.
“Part of creating the website is to build belief in the possibilities of timber.”
This is supported by Dr Anthony Hōete – a past NZ Institute of Architecture winner – who has called for greater adoption of mass Timber in the New Zealand building and construction industry.
Dr Hōete, the founder of Game of Architecture, specialising in build-to-rent affordable housing made from cross-laminated timber.
New Zealand-based Warren and Mahoney are strong wood advocates and have used timber throughout their award-winning buildings.
Warren and Mahoney are behind New Zealand’s tallest all-timber buildings, with Principal Simon Hardy emphasising the importance of mass timber as a material choice in buildings.
“As designers and as an industry, we can and must embrace innovation and sustainable practice by building the expertise, technology, and knowledge to drive change.”
Warren and Mahoney have formed an Advanced Timber Unit to help support the advancement of low-carbon mass timber.
Mr Hardy acknowledges that mass timber creates beautiful, cost-effective architecture and has huge potential for reducing carbon emissions in building construction.
Naylor Love Director Scott Watson says, “Timber gives you the best bang for your buck and a positive carbon saving while also creating amazing spaces to work and live.”
Naylor Love is leading the charge in the mass timber adoption and has been behind award-winning projects, including the Nelson Airport Terminal, the Botany Town Centre in Auckland and the Toru Apartments in Queenstown.
PTL Technical Director and NZ Timber Design Society president Daniel Moroder agrees with the cost and creating healthy buildings that are good for the environment and the people in them.
He says biophilia studies show that humans thrive in more natural environments.
“Being in or around nature makes people feel good. It’s been shown that visible timber in a building promotes a sense of nature, making people feel more well, relaxed, and productive.”
“Wood is, therefore, a fantastic material to use in office blocks, schools and even hospitals,” Moroder says.
Timber Unlimited will arm the industry with the capability and knowledge to replace emissions-intensive materials with wood, Mr Find said.
“This would empower the industry to speed up the journey to a lower-emissions future and make a real difference to Aotearoa, New Zealand.”