‘Build With Wood’ Conference hears how increased use of wood in construction can help climate and housing targets
- Ireland urgently needs to increase the use of wood in construction if climate action targets are to be met
- Wood products have the lowest embodied carbon of any mainstream building material, and Ireland’s use of wood in construction is extremely low compared to other European countries
Wednesday, 4 October 2023 – Coillte and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine brought over 200 national and international experts together today from the construction industry, scientific community and regulators to explore how to increase the use of wood in construction in the face of the climate and housing crises. The second annual Build with Wood conference was moderated by architect and broadcaster Dermot Bannon at Beyond the Trees Avondale, Co. Wicklow.
Wood products have the lowest embodied carbon of any mainstream building material. Ireland’s use of wood in construction is extremely low compared to other European countries, and without increasing its use in the built environment, it will be difficult for Ireland to meet its embodied carbon reduction targets. Today’s event builds on the momentum from last year’s inaugural conference, exploring the carbon benefits of using more wood in construction and the key actions needed to achieve this by Government, industry, and other key stakeholders.
Last year, Coillte launched a new forestry strategic vision, designed to capture up to 28m tonnes of CO2 from the environment by 2050 and which aims to balance and deliver the multiple benefits of its forests for climate, nature, wood, and people. In the period to 2030, Coillte plans to produce 25 million m3 of certified Irish wood to support the delivery of Irelands climate action plan which seeks to cut the embodied carbon emissions for materials produced and used in Ireland by at least 30 per cent. It will also continue to promote the increased use of wood products to raise the level of wood use in the construction of housing from its current low level of 20% to 80% by 2050.
Following Build with Wood 2022, a new Interdepartmental and Industry Timber in Construction Steering group was established to examine the regulatory challenges and changes to building standards needed to increase the use of timber in Modern Methods of Construction.
Speaking at the conference today, Minister of State for Forestry, Senator Pippa Hackett, said “I am delighted to have the opportunity to speak at today’s conference bringing together expert speakers and panellists to discuss the importance of timber in construction. We need to use much more wood in our built environment to displace emissions-intensive steel and cement where possible, and we need to maximise the increasing supply of timber that is coming from our forests. The Forest Strategy that I launched last month recognises the importance of timber, in particular its potential to reduce the embodied carbon of our buildings. Government is giving strong support to the expansion of our forest estate, and I encourage all farmers and landowners to give serious consideration to the generous grants and premiums now available under the new Forestry Programme.”
Imelda Hurley, CEO, Coillte, welcomed the establishment of the Interdepartmental and Industry Timber in Construction Steering group and said “This group will play a pivotal role in increasing the use of wood in construction. With a collaborative approach, a framework can be created to work through the current barriers, unlock regulatory constraints support demonstrator buildings, and develop the guidance and training materials which our architects and design specifiers need to move this critical agenda forward.”
“It is abundantly clear that accelerating the use of wood in our built environment is critical to meeting Ireland’s climate targets. Modern methods of timber construction offer a valuable solution to several issues facing housing delivery in Ireland – increasing the speed of delivery, delivering more sustainable homes, and reducing the need for onsite labour, decarbonising our built environment, and supporting our country’s Net Zero ambitions.”
Conference moderator Dermot Bannon said “It’s been great to bring so many of the key people here today to focus on this important issue. In my experience, Ireland lags other European countries significantly in terms of the use of wood in construction and given our need for large scale housing construction, this discussion couldn’t come at a more important time. The barriers to increasing the use of wood in our built environment are not insurmountable, and for the sake of Ireland’s climate action agenda, it is imperative that we overcome them. We can learn from the experience in other countries and deploy best practice here.”
Major themes from today’s Build with Wood conference included:
- To Build Sustainably We Need to Grow our Cities
- Timber Frame – The Scottish Experience
- Timber Frame Construction – A Developers Perspective
- The Role of the Inter Departmental Working Group on Timber in Construction
- How to Deliver More Sustainable Homes