CTI Blog

CTI Blog - It’s time for a holistic approach to Fire Safety problem

This guest blog post is by David Oldfield, Chairman of BWF Fire Door Scheme and Head of Joinery at Arnold Laver

 

The stories we hear about Grenfell Tower are concerning and the BWF team has been working tirelessly since the tragedy to provide the necessary support and advice to those involved and ensure that corrective action is timely and efficient.

Fire doors are in every building that we live in, work in and sleep in, but they are often overlooked, ignored and allowed to slip into a sorry state.

Many people do not realise that the real job of a fire door is to hold back fire, smoke and toxic gases, delaying the spread around a building and keeping the vital means of escape route clear. They only work properly if they are specified, manufactured, installed and maintained correctly, and of course, closed when a fire breaks out.

Fire Door Safety Week investigations have pointed to an endemic fire safety problem in this type of housing stock and many other residential, recreational, leisure, healthcare and educational buildings.

It is sadly not uncommon to see buildings without fire doors, no emergency lighting or signage on doors and escape routes, broken fire rated glass, wedged-open fire doors, poor fire stopping around service hatches that breach compartmentation, no intumescent or smoke seals in fire doors, rubbish and combustible material left in the common areas.

In the catalogue of issues that the full investigation will reveal, it is clear that there are systemic failures that need to be looked at. We must look for quick wins, but take a holistic approach to active and passive options to ensure that we can all live, recover, work, learn and play in relative safety.

Our hope is not simply that full and comprehensive inspections and risk assessments happen now, but that their recommendations are acted upon quickly, and that the regulatory framework is addressed and policed with suitable resource to ensure we don’t simply create a hiatus and allow matters to drift back to the reprehensible state they are now in.

We also reiterate our call for a Register of Responsible Persons so that the responsible person is not a mystery person lurking in the shadows, but must be front and centre so that people know where to take their problems.

By identifying the responsible person by name and providing the appropriate contact details, residents and building users are empowered to raise problems. This also ensures that those responsible for keeping them safe are made aware of issues directly. This doesn’t do away with the need for fire risk assessments, but supplements an effective process by harnessing the crowd to stay vigilant.

 

More info:

See Best Practice To Refurbishing Fire Doors Guide here

See pecialist advice on fire doors in social housing produced for Fire Door Safety Week here

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-it%E2%80%99s-time-holistic-approach-fire-safety-problem]

CTI Blog - Offsite: If it's not a System, then It's not a Solution

This guest blog post is by Gerard McCaughey, CEO of Entekra Inc

 

In Europe wood frame construction market adoption varies widely from virtually 100% in Scandinavia to 70% in Scotland and about 30% in Ireland and many other central and western European countries. However, what is common in all the countries, where wood frame is used, is that virtually all of it is constructed using an off site construction (OSC) system.

Most of the customers in Europe, whether they are builder/developers or custom home end users, understand the benefits that off site systems (OSC) can deliver in terms of speed, efficiency, quality, energy efficiency and sustainability. It would virtually be as alien to a European to stick build a wood frame house, as it would be to buy a new car and have every single component shipped to your front yard and have a couple of local mechanics come out in a pick up truck with welding equipment and pneumatic tools to build the car. You simply wouldn't dream of it.

Why ignore that 100 years of innovation and progress

Yet in the US market this is exactly how wood framed houses are built, without taking advantage of the last century of innovation and ignoring the benefits of computers, modern automation or factory controlled conditions and quality systems. The real question is Why?

Really the question is better phrased as why have off site solutions not been more widely adopted by the US construction industry?

Off Site System providers not component manufacturers

A large part of the reason is due to the nature of the "off site" industry in the US. In Europe and other parts of the world, the off site companies are part of a dedicated off site industry and categorically see themselves as offsite system providers and not as component manufacturers. In fact the term component is hardly ever used by the off site industry outside the US as the off site companies realize that the customer is not interested in purchasing components but rather is seeking a solution. The so called components are merely an output and form elements of a system which is a solution to the problem the builder wants addressed. They are not the raison d'être of the off site company.

Off Site benefits come from an integrated approach

Until there are dedicated Fully Integrated Off Site System providers it will be very difficult for the builder/developer to gain meaningful benefits and for off site solutions to gain a bigger share of the framing market. One of the major obstacles to this is the requirement for an experienced in house engineering team, as off site solutions will always be compromised if they are forced to use engineering that was designed for stick framing.

In particular, design, engineering and manufacturing of Pre Fabricated Floor Cassettes (PFC) requires a lot of internal engineering expertise. PFC's are are a critical element of off site construction in the multi-story , multi-family and light commercial markets. Engineering for maximum off site efficiency requires a detailed in depth knowledge of factory manufacturing techniques, structural engineering and the off site building process and connection detailing including sequencing and materials selection.

Until those in the industry with a genuine interest and vision for the potential of the "off site industry" realize that they need to become more than just component manufacturers and instead act as off site system/solution providers and resource themselves accordingly, the industry will fail to reach its potential, despite the the labor shortage, which is forcing builders to look for new solutions.

True off site companies are solution focused businesses that happen to manufacture components as an output of an integrated system that's purpose is to facilitate the fast track construction of a building utilizing both labor and material efficiency. Off site companies may manufacture components but they are not component manufacturers!

 

*Gerard McCaughey is Chief Executive of Entekra Inc, a firm specializing in design, engineering and manufacturing of Fully Integrated Off Site Solutions™ (FIOSS™) for homebuilding industry. Mr. McCaughey previously co-founded Century Homes, Europe’s largest offsite building manufacturing company producing over 8000 house units annually, with five plants in Ireland and UK, which he sold in 2005 to Kingspan Group Plc. He is regarded in Europe as being one of the leading figures in off site construction and green building movement, and was at the forefront of regulatory reform in both Ireland and Britain. He has acted as an off site construction consultant in Eastern Europe, United States and South Africa and has spoken and written about green and offsite construction in many other countries around the world and is a previous winner of Ernst and Young’s, Industry Entrepreneur of the Year Award and recognized by US Immigration Service as a "Person of Extraordinary Ability" in green and offsite construction.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-offsite-if-its-not-system-then-its-not-solution]

CTI Blog - Renewed CTI looks at 2017 with confidence

This blog post is by David Hopkins, CTI Director and Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF)

This feature also appeared on the Structural Timber Magazine, Spring 2017 edition

 

2017 is set to be a great year for the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI).

Thanks to an internal reorganisation and a revamped strategy, the Confederation has already started to intensify its initiatives with the aim of growing the UK Timber Industry.

As announced in an Industry Manifesto last autumn, CTI’s backbone now includes major trade associations such as the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), the Builders Merchants Federation, the Structural Timber Association (STA) and the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) offering their support and expertise.

These four organisations – in collaboration with major companies and the All Party Parliamentary Group for Timber Industries – are called upon to promote collaboration, share best practise and promote the Timber Industry case to key policy makers.

The first demonstration of the new CTI strategy was unveiled through a seminar held at the House of Commons in February 2017. Focused on the Housing White Paper issued by the Government and promoted by the Structural Timber Association (STA) and the Timber Industries APPG, the event showed how Offsite Timber Frame Construction could represent an effective and proven solution to meeting housing demand.

Industry figures show that the current production capacity is around 100,000 units per year and could easily scale up to 150,000 given the right policy frameworks.

In that occasion, Stewart Dalgarno, Director of Product Development at Stewart Milne Group clearly stated: “Housing is arguably the biggest social issue of our times, and a huge economic opportunity. The timber industry already has the capacity to help meet this demand and is already delivering around 60,000 units per year using proven offsite construction methods. This is not something for the future, we’re doing this now.”

However, to fully realise the potential of delivering over 150,000 offsite timber frame units per year by 2020 a more certain and long term commitment and policy framework is needed, along with an improved and widespread understanding of the benefits of using wood in construction.

A major step in that direction was taken just few weeks later, when the CTI joined forces with Wood for Good at Ecobuild 2017 to showcase the natural advantages of working with wood to develop sustainable communities and a low carbon economy.

For three days, experts from the Structural Timber Association, British Woodworking Federation, Timber Trade Federation, TRADA and Wood for Good were on hand to answer queries about this rapidly growing section of the construction market.

The CTI / Wood For Good joint stand also hosted two successful initiatives: the launch of the BWF Life Cycle Assessments through the new BRE LINA tool and the presentation of the new guide on the ‘Robustness of CLT Structures’ produced by the Structural Timber Association (STA).

The event clearly showed how a coordinated and targeted approach across the UK Timber Industry can help again put the sector in the spotlight.

With this in mind, the Confederation is going to undertake several tailored initiatives throughout 2017. The next project will be led by the British Woodworking Federation and focused on Apprenticeships and Skills. The seminar – to take place again at the House of Commons in Autumn 2017 – will see the participation of policy makers, Industry leaders and Sector experts.

In Winter, it will be the turn of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), called to organise and coordinate a debate on Sustainability and Quality of Standards across the whole Timber Supply Chain.

As underlined by many commentators, the 21st Century is definitely emerging as the Timber Age and what the Timber Industries need is a mouthpiece to push this message forward.

Well, the CTI is ready to play the role.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-renewed-cti-looks-2017-confidence]

CTI Blog - Values and Value: getting the message right 

This guest blog post is by Dougal Driver, CEO of Grown in Britain

 

This November will see the 800th anniversary of the 1217 Charter of the Forest, which enshrined rights to royal forest access for ‘free men’ of the time. A modern day Tree Charter has been created for the anniversary, aiming to reaffirm the connection between Britain’s people and its forests through ten principles.

These  include recognizing economic and employment potential alongside the roles of conservation, health and wellbeing that forests can provide. Of greatest concern to us at Grown in Britain is that society comes to value the right trees for the right reasons.

British timber was formerly seen by timber traders and distributors as a somewhat poor relation to imported stock. After massive investment by all the big producers across Britain in the last 20 years, that perception is now well out of date. Some of the big mills here in the UK operate at a standard certainly equal to, if not slightly ahead of, major mills in other parts of northern Europe. Kilning and quality control, and greater availability, have contributed to British timber representing just shy of 40% of the UK’s timber usage by volume in 2015, according to the latest TTF statistics. British timber’s economic value is therefore undisputed.  

The language used in many other forums where trees are discussed, however, still shows a gap in public understanding, which we must all work harder to close. Forest cover is talked of as being ‘lost’, with the implication that it’s ‘gone forever’, and trees are still talked of as being ‘cut down’, with its derogatory implications, rather than ‘harvested’. Grown in Britain is starting to tackle some of these perceptions, but we need the whole timber industry’s help in doing so. 

At home, at social gatherings, or even when taking family and children for walks, we should all play our part in helping others to understand that, for example, trees for harvesting and trees as valued habitats can exist in close quarter. We need to ‘normalise’ this concept of trees being harvested and replanted wherever we go in life, if the raw material that sustains our industry is not to be erroneously valued and our industry wrongly targeted by public opinion. British wood producers and an increasing number of timber merchants are choosing to highlight positively their connection with sustainable British timber through the Grow in Britain licensing scheme. 

The right to access forests for recreation, health and wellbeing, plus the benefits of doing so, and the environmental outcomes that forests support, are rightly valued by all. Where effort is needed is to dovetail these sentiments with industry’s capability to maintain such societal values alongside undertaking economic harvesting and production.  

We hope CTI supporters and stakeholders will all sign up to the Tree Charter principles. At the same time, we hope you’ll also help Grown in Britain to underline the economic value of our forests and woodlands by supporting more British producers, and bringing more British-grown timber into your supply chains.  

It’s the only way to ensure that values and value can co-exist sustainably for the future. 

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-values-and-value-getting-message-right]

CTI Blog - Timber is set to be a vital, dynamic part of UK industrial future

This blog post is by Roy Wakeman OBE, CTI Chairman

This feature is also included in CTI response to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper

 

Timber; flexible, structurally strong and having the lowest embodied carbon of any commercially available commodity; contributes $600 billion to the global economy around 1% of global total GDP.

The World Bank forecasts the global demand for timber will quadruple by 2050. The timber supply chain is a key part of the manufacturing and construction industries in the UK adding an annual value of over £10 billion to the UK economy. It provides jobs across a wide spectrum of skills, directly employing over 150,000 people across the country (with over 350,000 jobs reliant on timber).

Recognising that skills are critical to productivity, there are currently over 10,000 apprentices currently working towards a woodworking, carpentry or joinery qualification and it is predicted that approximately 4,000 apprentices are required to be recruited each year for the next four to keep up with demand.

The industry is constantly evolving and through the Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) we are developing our core qualifications to ensure that they embrace latest and future requirements. The supply chain is attracting investment in manufacturing and logistic capacity, developing new products and innovations in a variety of sectors and applications. If this growth is to be maintained in a rapidly changing economic and political environment, we need to work together with Government to ensure the right policy and market frameworks are developed.

The CTI was formed in 2015 to do just this, acting as an umbrella organisation across the Timber supply chain. With the support and leadership of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF), Builders Merchant Federation (BMF), British Woodworking Federation (BWF), and the Structural Timber Association (STA), as well as a network of individual companies and organisations, the CTI is lobbying to put the Timber Industries at the heart of the new industrial strategy.

The CTI will focus on several key themes to influence the development and expansion of the Timber supply chain: Sustainability; Value & Growth; Skills, Jobs and Training; and meeting our Housing needs. In these areas, we will work collaboratively to stimulate growth and productivity, providing pan-supply chain representation across the industry to ensure that timber is not just seen as a vital element of our industrial heritage, but that it remains a vital, dynamic part of our industrial future.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-timber-set-be-vital-dynamic-part-uk-industrial-future]

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