Report from a seminar in Wales

Report from a seminar in Wales
Environmental benefits could influence growth of timber frame construction in Wales. Welsh designers and builders are keen to use more timber frame construction, according to delegates at a recent seminar in Cardiff.

An audience of architects and construction industry representatives signalled their desire to use more wood in construction at the “Making timber work – for you” event at the Museum of Welsh Life, near Cardiff, last month. One reason they would choose timber frame over other forms of construction is the positive environmental impact of timber over other construction materials.

At the seminar John Fletcher, project manager at wood.for good, reinforced this message by highlighting the contribution to greenhouse gas emissions caused by different construction materials. He also pointed out the long-term benefits of wood as a building material in reducing CO2 emissions from the atmosphere as well as in saving energy in use, with further savings when the building material is re-cycled or used to replace fossil fuels in power generation.

“Buildings are major contributors to CO2 emissions into the atmosphere, both in the energy used to manufacture the materials to construct them and in the energy they consume through heating and lighting,” he explained. “Fossil fuels are used in the production of materials such as steel, aluminium, cement, concrete and plastics in varying amounts. “Substituting timber for these products can dramatically reduce CO2 emissions and make a positive contribution to reducing climate change.”

Wales currently lags behind the rest of the UK in the use of timber frame in construction. While the most recent statistics show timber frame accounting for an encouraging 15.2% of all new houses in the UK, the figure for Wales alone is 7%, compared with over 60% of Scottish homes and approx 10% in England. Architects at the seminar suggested that this, in part, is due to the lack of strong timber supply chain partners in Wales.

Fletcher said: “By using engineered timber frames in construction, the building can be designed and manufactured off site to be delivered anywhere in the UK providing huge benefits in site time, build quality and in overcoming the lack of skills experienced across the industry.”

Peter Chlapowski, founder of PCKO Architects in London, who also spoke at the seminar, underlined the huge potential and design benefits of wood and gave examples of some of the award-winning timber frame buildings designed by his practice, some of which have been recently built in Wales.