Timber buildings must be at the heart of our national construction programme


The under-development of our timber industry means that Ireland is missing out on a great opportunity to accelerate our fight against climate change.

The country needs to get serious about building with wood, given our ability to produce some of the fastest growing timber for construction in the world.

Forests are one of the most scaleable ways to combat climate change and trees are our best allies in the battle against global warming.

Calculations by Forest Industries Ireland show the equivalent CO2 from 60pc of the cars on Irish roads is taken from the atmosphere by our forests every year.

We should lock this carbon away in timber by building most of the homes needed by the State from timber frame as well constructing civic buildings with Cross Laminated Timber (CLT).

For example, London's 'Bridport House' is an eight-storey apartment building built in 2010 that has locked away 1,140 tonnes of CO2 in its structure.

Timber construction methods can assist Ireland with reaching our climate change targets. Local and national government need to consider building more civic and public buildings with timber and take a lead in our built environment.

Across Ireland, trees stand ready to help us solve the climate crisis. Growing and managing forests will also support rural economies, create sustainable jobs in every county and create high-quality affordable housing.

This will sustain and grow the 12,000 forest industry jobs throughout rural Ireland.

Houses, apartments, offices and schools can all be built with timber. A modest residential extension could easily lock up three or four tonnes of carbon if it is built with wood, with about one tonne of CO2 locked up in every cubic meter of timber. Just think what a five-storey apartment building or a new national school could do if it was built with modern CLT.

Timber technology has come a long way in the last decade. Strong, durable timber buildings should be at the heart of our national building programme.

Timber is a material that has absorbed rather than emitted carbon. Our forests are absorbing 3.8 million tonnes of CO2 every year.

We need to modernise our building regulations to allow us to build more with timber.

The Government needs to prioritise and drive this process.

Irish architects and engineers are frustrated in their efforts to build more with timber by the gaps in the building regulations.

In addition, the timber industry needs to work closely with building authorities and standards bodies.

We need to get our architects and engineers on board and encourage them to design and build with wood.

All around the world - from Toronto to London to Norway - multi-storey timber apartment buildings are going up. They are at the cutting edge of design, performance and quality, and they have locked away thousands of tonnes of CO2.

Richard Bruton's Climate Action Plan calls for the planting of 8,000 hectares annually in Ireland; it also recognises that we need to use more timber in our buildings.

A healthy timber market supports a healthy forestry programme, sustains thousands of rural jobs, and helps our climate goals.


This article was first seen on https://www.independent.ie/business/farming/timber-buildings-must-be-at-the-heart-of-our-national-construction-programme-38922223.html