Mass Timber: Sustainable Pathway for Brisbane 2032 Olympics

The Queensland Government could push to use mass timber in Brisbane 2032 Olympic and Paralympic Games Athletes Village

Fri 02 Jun 23


The pathway to Brisbane 2032 presents Queensland with enormous opportunities.

The direct economic benefits for the state are estimated to be $8 billion and more than $17 billion for Australia.

No significant infrastructure is being built solely for the few weeks of the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Brisbane 2032 offers a once in a lifetime investment that will leave lasting benefits and generating trade, tourism, and urban renewal.

The Games are the world’s biggest advertisement and we will be promoting Queensland as a place to visit and a place to do business … including business with timber.

Brisbane 2032 will be a climate-positive Games.

That means greenhouse gas reductions greater than the Games residual emissions.

We know growing forests capture carbon while timber buildings have lower emissions for life – as Timber Queensland has educated me.

So timber needs to be part of our aspirations.

Sustainably managed timber is increasingly recognised worldwide as a central plank – or a support beam – of the international response to climate change. It is a uniquely renewable material that can store carbon for long durations – around half its dry weight is carbon.

We are seeing more public awareness that timber can substitute for steel, concrete, and aluminium.

Timber can perform better than its alternatives.

Here in Brisbane, we can see and touch the example of 25 King in Bowen Hills. Aurecon assesses that development saves 74% in embodied carbon and 46% less in energy use.

Mass Timber Buildings like 25 King Street play an important role in reducing up-front carbon emissions (Photo credit: Tom Rowe)
Mass Timber Buildings like 25 King Street play an important role in reducing up-front carbon emissions (Photo credit: Tom Rowe)

Melbourne’s T3 Collingwood and Sydney’s Atlassian buildings are part of the movement.

An artists impression of Hines T3 Collingwood set to be completed in 2024
An artist’s impression of Hines T3 Collingwood set to be completed in 2024

Queensland’s long experience of innovation in forestry will be crucial in demonstrating the role of mass timber in planning Brisbane 2032.

The DAF Salisbury research centre in Brisbane has tested new building products for over a century, leading research recognised across the Pacific Rim and in Europe.

The University of the Sunshine Coast is working on a world stage, too, with the IEA bioenergy. The Forest Research Institute focuses on timber production from forest to mill, including efficiencies through resilience and bioenergy.

In Brisbane, we have a tough act to follow. London 2012 was the first Green Games, achieving a zero waste-to-landfill outcome. Paris 2024 says it will be the first climate-positive Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Paris is leading the way through projects like Le Grand Palais – a Glue Laminated Structure which will host the judo and wrestling competitions at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games (Photo credit: Patrick Tourneboeuf)

And no doubt Los Angeles will rise to that challenge.

And we’re learning from the impressive timber story unfolding at the 2026 Winter Village in Milan.

The Queensland government supports efforts to demonstrate engineered wood products and to invest in the future of timber.

We can see timber as a building material has great potential in achieving the government’s commitment to a climate-positive Games.

Using timber for the athletes’ village could achieve a dual legacy as a sustainable venue and as lasting affordable accommodation.

An artist’s impression of the Brisbane Olympic Games Village. (Photo credit: Image Supplied by Queensland State Government)

Backed by the Advance Queensland agenda and the $5.8 billion Queensland Jobs Fund, we can facilitate the development of low carbon industries. Last year, the government established a new timber industry ministerial roundtable as a forum to provide feedback and support.

The Games will be a feature of those discussions.

The state’s timber industry certainly come a long way. And the Queensland government looks forward to working with the forest and timber industry into the future.

All along the supply chain, we will build towards Brisbane 2032 and a legacy well beyond.

• Extracts from a presentation by Bart Mellish, Assistant Minister to the Premier for Veterans Affairs and the Public Sector, to Timber Queensland’s Doing Timber Business in Queensland symposium.


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