Industry Events

AHEC conference in Copenhagen shows the future for American hardwood

Last week nearly 150 European hardwood importers, architects and American hardwood exporters came together in Copenhagen to discuss the future for American hardwoods at the AHEC European conference. The event provided networking opportunities for the timber trade and updates on market conditions, as well as forecasts and trends which will impact on their business in the future.

Under the conference’s theme ‘The Future For American Hardwoods’, a series of discursive seminars with expert panels explored the topics of hardwoods in construction and new approaches to sustainability as two key drivers towards a bright future for U.S. hardwood species. Practical workshops with industry specialists focussed on the technical aspects of using and specifying American hardwoods; from understanding the forest resource, the breadth of individual species, lumber grading and exterior applications.

Mike Snow, AHEC Executive Director, opened with an update on the globalisation of the American hardwood industry, commenting on the decline in domestic demand versus the rapidly growing Chinese appetite for American hardwood. He stated the astonishing fact that “one in every five boards of American lumber will now end up in China”. He also stressed the continued importance of high value European markets where there are opportunities for new applications.

Next, Brogan Cox and Rocío Pérez-Íñigo of AHEC Europe revealed the new promotional tools and messages that AHEC Europe are focusing on through their series of successful creative projects, such as Along The Lines of Happiness in Italy, The Smile in UK or The Workshop of Dreams in Spain, addressing key messages such as promoting underused species or finding new applications.

Architect Jasmin Sohi (dRMM Architects) presented the latest shots and design details from the site of the new Maggie’s Cancer Caring Centre currently under construction in Oldham, England; the first commercial building ever built using hardwood CLT, made with American tulipwood.

Following which, Andrew Lawrence (Arup) presented the engineering challenges behind The Smile, the timber pavilion AHEC created for the London Design Festival this September, in partnership with Alison Brooks Architects and Arup, using the largest ever panels of cross-laminated American tulipwood. This experimental pavilion is a vital step towards timber, hardwoods in particular, playing a greater role in the construction industry and making the built environment more sustainable.

This presentation was followed by a great debate chaired by AHEC European Director David Venables, with the participation of Daniel Kressig  from Zueblin Timber, and both Jasmin Sohi and Andrew Lawrence, who expressed their views on the potential for U.S. hardwoods in construction and, specifically, on the next exciting steps for hardwood CLT as a commercial reality.

The conference followed with an Industry Panel where American hardwood exporters discussed the concerns about the devastating EAB (emerald ash borer) and its impact on long term U.S. ash supplies. Other discussion points included white oak availability, given the continued pressure on log supply from the growing barrel stave market and generally how the hardwood industry could further adapt their production to the current needs of the European market.

AHEC Consultant Rupert Oliver began the afternoon session by explaining AHEC’s innovative approach to communicating the environmental benefits of U.S. hardwoods by providing access to reliable forest inventory data, environmental Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and regional risk assessment. Rupert highlighted that “around 90% of U.S. hardwood supply derives from private forest owners, of which there are 9.8 million, with an average forest holding of only 15 hectares.” Dr Randy Wynne (Virginia Tech) developed this theme demonstrating the power of satellite and drone remote sensing to monitor forest condition. Al Goetzl, President of Seneca Creek Associates, spoke about on-going work to review and update the Seneca Creek study, first published in 2008. He noted how the Seneca Creek study links to evolving regulatory initiatives like EUTR and the Lacey Act, and to forest certification systems like FSC and PEFC, providing supporting information for individual operators to form valid conclusions about the risk of illegality and unsustainable practices in the U.S. hardwood supply chain

In the ensuing panel discussion, the presenters were joined by Jakob Rygg Klaumann and Mike Worrell, respectively of the Danish and UK timber trade associations, who commented on the relevance of the Seneca Creek review to their members and market implications of the new high tech data sources described by Randy.

The first day concluded with an industry showcase which proved to be a productive networking event for both American exporters and European buyers.

The second day started with an interesting session in which Rupert Oliver (Forest Industries Intelligence) talked about the American hardwood resource and presented for the first time the revolutionary, interactive online map AHEC have created, showing the detailed distribution of 20 American hardwood species across the United States as well their individual rates of harvest and growth.

Mr Oliver also presented the American Hardwood Environmental Profile (AHEP); a very easy to use visual tool that enables American hardwood exporters to provide a comprehensive consignment-specific shipping document with information on the risk of illegality as well as sustainability of the U.S. hardwood species contained in that consignment and which satisfies all “due-diligence” requirements from the EUTR.

Next, Neil Summers (Timber Dimension) explored the growth opportunities for exterior applications of American hardwoods and focused on the several U.S. species which are clearly suitable for thermal modification; an application which AHEC is very excited about as the market for exterior wood applications continues to grow. Neil also talked about how as the industry prepares for the loss of American ash as a substrate for thermal modification, we must consider suitable alternatives and the audience suggested red oak. He showed some inspiring examples of recent projects made in Europe using U.S. TMT (thermally modified timber), such as Room on a Hill.

The conference concluded with a highly informative and practical session delivered by Dana Spessert, NHLA’s Chief Inspector, on grading hardwood lumber to the NHLA standard.


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Mark Farmer to be keynote speaker at Explore Offsite Futures 2016

Mark Farmer, CEO and Founding Director of the Real Estate & Construction Consultancy Cast, is confirmed to speak at Explore Offsite Futures on the 24 November at the NEC, Birmingham.

Mark was most recently commissioned by the Construction Leadership Council, at the request of government, to undertake a review of the UK’s construction labour model. The report under the banner of 'The Farmer Review of the UK Construction Labour Model' and subtitled 'Modernise or Die'- has now been delivered and has focused a great deal of media attention towards the construction industry's dysfunctional training model, its lack of innovation and collaboration as well as its non-existent research and development (R&D) culture.

One of the main suggestions within the report, is that the UK construction industry needs to embrace offsite manufacture, and therefore Explore Offsite Futures is your opportunity to hear directly from the author and the Q&A session will provide answers to your questions about this report.

Mark will be discussing ‘Building a Mature UK Pre-Manufacturing Sector: Implications of the Farmer Review’ at Explore Offsite Futures.

You can book your place at the event by following this link:

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'Custom-Build: Seeing the Wood through the Trees' conference | 27 October 2016 | Bristol

Registration for the conference 'Custom-Build: Seeing the Wood through the Trees' is now open.

The event, organised by Timber Design Initiatives with support from Wood for Good, will take place on Thursday 27 October 2016 at Engineers' House in Bristol.

Speaking in particular to architects and construction professionals, the conference will highlight the benefits of using off-site timber manufacturing technologies to the self and custom-build sector.

'Custom-Build: Seeing the Wood through the Trees' will discuss the Self-Build and Custom Housebuilding Act 2015 and the Housing and Planning Bill 2016. There will also be room for debating opportunities for innovation in development partnerships, sustainable design and materials/technologies.

Main speakers include Richard Bacon MP, who proposed the Custom Housebuilding Act, and Paul Britton, of the Homes & Communities Agency (HCA), who will discuss the provisions of the new £3 billion Home Building Fund.

Early bird offer has been extended until 16 September. Click here to register.

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Timber Expo unveils seminar sessions details

Timber Expo has announced details of its comprehensive seminar schedule coordinated by TRADA.

The seminar sessions - spanned over three days (18 – 20 October 2016) in the Timber Focus Theatre area - will debate a broad spectrum of industry trends and issues.

Day one of the seminar schedule will focus on pushing the boundaries of what is possible with timber and will be chaired by David Hopkins, Managing Director of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF). Topics will include building timber skyscrapers, innovation and growing the timber market with speakers such as Michael Ramage, Senior University Lecturer in architectural engineering at Cambridge University and Jon Shanks, Associate Structural Engineer, Buro Happold and Visiting Research Fellow at the University of Bath.

In the afternoon the focus will turn to skills. Led by David Campbell, Membership and Training Director at the British Woodworking Federation (BWF), the session will look at how the industry can attract and keep new recruits.

Day two will tackle the challenges of making it easier to specify timber. Panellists will discuss the introduction of TRADA’s new Timber Pre-Scheme Manual, how the UK’s National Structural Timber Specification (NSTS) has helped get timber specifications right for major sub-contractors and what the industry can do to make it easier to specify timber. The second day will also look at timber’s role in the custom and self build market with Richard Bacon, MP for South Norfolk and instigator of the ‘Right to Build’ Act, which has radically changed the commercial landscape in this sector, joining the speaker line up.

The final day of seminars will explore the possibilities of hybrid construction from both an engineer’s, architect’s and CLT supplier’s perspective. Speakers from Buro Happold engineers, Bennett’s architects and KLH will draw on case studies to bring out their key points.

The other topic covered on the third day will be a look at the continuing innovation for structural timber frames and UK manufacturing with speakers including Alex Cook, Technical Project Coordinator at Barratt Developments PLC, Alastair Parvin, Co-founder of WikiHouse Foundation, Calum Murray, Director at CCG (Scotland) Ltd and Alex Goodfellow, Managing Director of Stewart Milne Timber Systems.

In addition to the Timber Focus Theatre there will also be a Timber Flooring Workshop. In conjunction with the Flooring Industry Training Association, top master fitters will create informative presentations covering products from all areas of contact flooring, including wood, carpet, vinyl, laminate, tools and accessories.

Nathan Garnett, Event Director for Timber Expo, said: “With the increasing demand for sustainable building methods at a faster rate of completion, the timber industry is set to see record growth over the next few years. How then can the industry position itself best to capitalise on this opportunity and promote the many benefits of timber in construction? This year’s Timber Expo is here to do just that and I’m confident that the seminar content that TRADA has so diligently put together will offer real value and deliver strategy for the future of this sector. Importantly, the show also represents the first major event following the decision to leave the EU and as such will play a role in settling any nerves within the sector.”


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Global Timber Conference | 19-21 September 2016 | Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

The inaugural Global Timber Conference (GTC 2016) will take place from 19 to 21 September 2016 at the Pullman Bangsar Hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Hosted by the Malaysian Timber Industry Board, the Global Timber Conference 2016 will focus on 'Harnessing Sustainable Global Growth'.

The event is expected to bring together over 400 odd regional policy makers, experts and captains from the United States, Europe, East-Asia, North-Asia and ASEAN representing industry practitioners, government officials and regulators in the timber and timber-products industry.

More than 20 Guest Speakers representing government agencies, timber research bodies, timber associations and commercial companies from over 10 countries will gather to debate a wide gamut of topics: • Global Timber Outlook; • Sustainable Natural and Plantation Timbers; Management; • Global Supply Chains, Standards and Certifications for Timber Industry; • Advanced Materials for New Products Development; • Timber as The Game Changer In The Building Sector; • Insights on The Future Of Furniture Industry; • Global Timber Leaders Forum.

For detailed program, visit

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