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CTI Blog - What does the construction industry want from its timber suppliers?

This guest blog post is by Charlie Law, Managing Director at Sustainable Construction Solutions. This article was previously published in the TRADA Timber 2017 Industry Yearbook.

 

The UK consumes circa 16 million m3 of sawn wood and panel products annually, the vast majority of which is believed to be used either directly or indirectly by the construction industry. But is the timber industry giving construction industry customers what they want with regard to sustainability?

This will probably depend on who you are talking to within the supply chain, but according to some senior sustainability managers from a number of major contractors, there are some fundamental requirements that must be met. The primary concern (other than getting the right timber on site at the right time) is that it must be from a verifiable legal and sustainable source.

For legality, this will need to meet the requirements of the EU Timber Regulation. However, when talking about sustainability, contractors are not just looking at the environmental issues, such as ensuring the timber is harvested from forests that will be replanted, they are looking to ensure the wider social and economic issues are also met. Associated with this is local sourcing, which is becoming a key requirement for a number of construction clients. There are also the issues of resource efficiency, and alternative and innovative new products and how these may perform over time in a given situation.

 

Responsible sourcing

Members of the UK Contractors Group (UKCG, now part of Build UK) have previously issued procurement wording stating that: ‘All timber products purchased for either temporary or permanent inclusion in the works on UKCG member sites shall be legally and sustainably sourced, as defined by the former UK Government Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET).’ Many contractors have qualified this by stating that they will only accept timber that has full chain of custody via a third-party certification scheme that meets the requirements of CPET. CPET requires that any approved scheme must meet its full range of sustainability requirements, such as:

  • forest management planning to reduce net deforestation and restrict land use changes
  • minimising harm to ecosystems including protection of soil, water and biodiversity, and
  • control on the use of chemicals and correct disposal of waste.

CPET also ensures traditional tenure and use rights are observed, consulting and working with indigenous populations who rely on the forest, labour rights (freedom of association, elimination of forced or child labour and discrimination), health and safety of workers, training, grievances and disputes. At the time of writing, CPET has only approved the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification (PEFC) schemes as being compliant with its requirements, achieving almost identical scores in the latest review from 2015.

In addition to these minimum requirements, many clients and contractors have specific project or company requirements that could include an FSC-only policy or a requirement for FSC or PEFC project certification. For example, some clients and contractors are members of the World Wide Fund for Nature Global Forest & Trade Network, which promotes the use of FSC-certified wood.

 

Local sourcing

Another key requirement in recent years has been the move by contractors, in many cases at the request of the client driven in part by the Social Value Act, for more locally sourced products and services. The UKCG procurement statement was redrafted to include this the additional requirement: ‘We will give preference to schemes that support the principles of the Social Value Act, eg the use of timber and timber products which are assured as “Grown in Britain”’ and this was published on the Grown in Britain website. The majority of UKCG members subsequently signed up to support the Grown in Britain campaign and procure British grown timber where feasible. Grown in Britain also forms part of the social value assessment carried out by the Considerate Constructors Scheme.

Grown in Britain is a not-for-profit organisation that is trying to reconnect the British public and business to our woodlands and the timber resources it can provide. According to the Forestry Commission Timber Utilisation Statistics 2015 Report, only around 15% of the sawn softwood the construction industry uses is sourced from the UK, and although there are no specific figures for hardwood used in construction, the Forestry Commission Statistics 2016 state that UK sourced hardwood made up less than 10% of the total hardwood market. Therefore individuals and organisations must insist on using Grown in Britain timber wherever practicable to improve these statistics.

The Grown in Britain licencing scheme (GiB) is a chain of custody scheme that confirms the provenance of timber, and is specifically aimed at timber grown in the UK and products manufactured from this timber, as well as the woodlands. In most cases it will sit alongside a product’s FSC or PEFC chain of custody certification, but in certain circumstances, such as where there is a requirement to source timber from a particular local woodland, it can also act as an assurance of legality and sustainability. The key requirement of a GiB licensed woodland is that it meets the requirements of the UK Forestry Standard (UKFS). Timber traceable to a forest with a fully implemented forest management plan in line with the UKFS requirements and guidelines also meets the UK Government’s Timber Procurement Policy.

 

Circular economy

With more focus on the circular economy, and the associated resource efficiency, clients and contractors are also looking to incorporate more reused and recycled material into their projects. The Ellen MacArthur Foundation describes the circular economy as “one that is restorative and regenerative by design, and which aims to keep products, components and materials at their highest utility and value at all times, distinguishing between technical and biological cycles.” Although timber is the construction industry’s ultimate renewable resource, this does not mean it should be sent out as biomass for energy production, or worse landfill, after its first use. Many timber components can be either reused in their original form or recycled into new materials such as chipboard, keeping them at their highest utility and value.

There are a number of reuse organisations that will collect unwanted timber from construction sites and timber processors for reuse. One of these is the National Community Wood Recycling Project (NCWRP), which is a social enterprise that has been promoted by many in the construction industry as it helps to create sustainable employment for local people, especially those who might find it difficult to get into employment.

FSC and PEFC both have allowances within their schemes to cater for recycled content within a product. Ensuring products containing recycled timber materials are certified to one or more of these schemes helps to demonstrate that resource efficiency has been considered in the manufacturing process.

The timber industry should also be looking at how its products could be easily removed and reused at the end of their service life. This could be removable hoarding panels that may only be in place for a few months, or floorboards that could be in place for a lot longer.

 

Timber delivery documentation

For contractors receiving deliveries on a construction site, the key to confirming whether a product is FSC or PEFC certified (or Grown in Britain licensed) is the delivery ticket. All the above schemes require a minimum amount of information, including the claim and the certificate number, to be noted on both the delivery ticket and the invoice. However, all too often timber, or more likely timber products, turn up on site without this minimum information on the delivery ticket. This needs to be addressed by the wider construction supply chain to ensure full chain of custody is maintained throughout the supply chain. In addition, one thing contractors would really like to see on delivery tickets is the volume of product (preferably against each item, but a total volume would be useful as a minimum) as this aids with the reporting required for project certification and industry monitoring.

 

Educating the wider construction supply chain

Where timber merchants, who generally meet the documentation requirements, are supplying materials to manufacturers they know are supplying into the construction industry, but they are not part of the timber industry (for example, lift cars contain a surprising amount of timber and panel products), it would be great if they could impart their knowledge on chain of custody and its requirements; this is something the Timber Trade Federation is looking at. In addition, the Supply Chain Sustainability School has some useful online training modules on chain of custody and what is required, produced in association with Exova BM TRADA, which can all be accessed free of charge.

 

Alternative products

There will, however, always be situations where it may not be possible to obtain a specified product with the right sustainability requirements, for example plywood is not manufactured in the UK, so a Grown in Britain plywood product would not be obtainable at this time. This is where the knowledge of the timber industry should really come to the fore, by suggesting alternative products that may suit a client’s requirements. For example, it may be possible to use an OSB board instead of plywood, as this would be available from a home-grown source.

Linked to this is the rise of modified wood products such as acetylated timber (for example, Accoya®) and thermally modified products (Brimstone and ThermoWood®). These are now increasingly being specified for external applications in lieu of other timber species due to their improved resistance to insect and fungal attack.

Where there is any doubt as to the proper application of a timber product, the contractor can always be referred to TRADA for their expert opinion. Call the TRADA Advisory line on 01494 569601.

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-blog-what-does-construction-industry-want-its-timber-suppliers]

PEFC UK to hold two free workshops on sustainable forest management and Chain of Custody

PEFC UK will be holding two different seminars in February designed to provide a clear understanding of what lies behind the PEFC label and why certification and Chain of Custody is so important.

These free workshops will explain the certification procedures behind PEFC certification. Delegates are also invited to participate in discussing the challenges, benefits and business opportunities that PEFC Chain of Custody certification presents.

Attendees will have a choice of two city centre venues: 

  • London: Tuesday 6th February 2018
    CVO, Society Building, 8 All Saints Street, London, N1 9RL
  • Newcastle: Tuesday 13th February 2018
    Royal Station Hotel, Neville Street, Newcastle Upon Tyne, Tyne & Wear, NE1 5DH

For more info and to book your place, download the form here and send it to jcobham@pefc.co.uk

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/pefc-uk-hold-two-free-workshops-sustainable-forest-management-and-chain-custody]

CTI and Timber Industries APPG to host Parliamentary Reception on 7th February 2018

The Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) and the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Timber Industries will be holding the first Timber Industries Parliamentary Reception of 2018 at the Palace of Westminster on Wednesday 7th February.

This year’s reception will be hosted by Ian Paisley MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) for the Timber Industries, while the guest speaker will be Dr Thérèse Coffey MP, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for the Environment. 

Representatives from across the UK’s timber industries will be also be attending, and the event will be an opportunity to learn more about the contribution which the timber industries make to the UK economy. 

For more information and reservation, please contact us at info@cti-timber.org

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/first-timber-industries-parliamentary-reception-2018-be-held-7th-february]

BWF Trade Survey Q4 2017: Investment in products improvement grows despite rising raw material costs

The British Woodworking Federation (BWF) has issued its Joinery State of Trade Survey Q4 2017. The consultation indicates that investment in product improvement and customer research is growing despite rising raw material costs and slowing sales growth.

BWF Policy and Communications Executive Matt Mahony commented: “Sales are still growing at a reasonable rate and there are no indications of a sudden decline for the British woodworking industry despite the pessimism around construction from some quarters. Slightly fewer order books extending beyond three months and consecutive quarters of lowered sales growth expectations conceal the reality which is that our members have been selling products and adapting to the higher costs that have now unfortunately become the new norm.

“More than two-thirds of respondents noted that Brexit-related uncertainty has already affected their business, with two-thirds of those identifying the impact as being increased raw material costs. If we look to the longer term however, manufacturers are unsure as to what the effects of Brexit might be.

“On the plus side, it’s hugely encouraging to see joinery manufacturers taking a proactive approach to growing their market. Investment in e-business is set to increase by half and customer research is anticipated to double. More than two-thirds of members will be investing more in product improvement.

“With the innovation and initiative of our members reflected in the survey results, there are plenty of reasons why wood should be the material of the choice for 2018 and beyond. The irreparable damage of plastic pollution is never far from the news, with programmes such as Blue Planet 2 capturing the public imagination and the Wood Window Alliance’s Fake Facts campaign shining a spotlight on the PVC-u industry’s ‘plastic promises’. We will be building on existing resources to support members of all sizes in showcasing their products as beautiful and sustainable and illustrating the benefits to specifiers of building it with wood.”

 

Key points from the BWF Joinery State of Trade Survey Q4 2017 include:

  • A balance of 33% of respondents reported an increase in sales volumes over the last quarter, with 41% reporting an increase over the last year. This corresponds with the 44% of respondents reporting a quarterly increase in the previous survey.
  • 68% of respondents felt that Brexit-related uncertainty had affected their business so far with 67% of those noting that the cost of raw materials was where it had impacted.
  • A balance of 32% felt that Brexit negotiations would have a negative impact on their business in the next 12 months.
  • When asked about the impact of Brexit over 5 years, respondents were split between whether it would be positive or negative (25% for each) with 40% unsure of the implications and 10% expecting no impact.
  • Manufacturers felt that sales volumes would improve in the next quarter, with a balance of 34% predicting an increase for Q1 2018, and a balance of 30% predicting an increase over the next year.
  • 19% of companies reported a current order book of future work extending beyond 3 months – down 7% from the previous quarter - with 53% saying that their order book extended to between 1 and 3 months.
  • Demand was listed as the most likely constraint on output over the next year by 37% of respondents. Labour availability and Capacity came next, with 24% and 20% of respondents feeling that they were most likely to constrain output.
  • 32% of respondents on balance reported increasing their labour force in the previous year, with 44% of respondents anticipating an increased labour force over the next year.
  • Raw material costs were noted as a major inflationary factor for unit costs for 95% of respondents on balance, with wages/salaries increases pushing up unit costs for 67% of respondents on balance.
  • Over the previous year a balance of 59% of respondents had invested in improving their products with 45% investing in their manufacturing equipment.
  • Investment in product improvement was set for the highest capital investment over the next year, with a balance of 67% planning to invest and with 48% set to invest in equipment

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/bwf-trade-survey-q4-2017-investment-product-improvement-grows-despite-rising-raw-material]

CTI responds to Government's Clean Growth Strategy remarking the contribution of Timber Industry to low-carbon economy

The Confederation of Timber Industries (CTI) has recently produced a brief response to the Clean Growth Strategy policy paper released by the UK Government last Autumn.

The CTI's response highlights the benefits that the UK Timber Industry can bring to a new, long-lasting, low-carbon economy model.

In fact, Timber has an established supply chain with huge potential for rapid growth, helping the UK meet employment, economic and housing targets, whilst also delivering against low-carbon and climate change objectives:

  • Timber is one of the safest and cheapest forms of carbon capture and storage available
  • The UK timber industry employs 150,000 people in the manufacturing and supply chain and an additional 200,000 UK construction jobs (and a third of construction apprenticeships) are in wood related trades
  • The forestry and timber industry is a key part of our environmental and industrial heritage and a vital part of our low-carbon future
  • Timber products have the lowest embodied carbon of any mainstream building material
  • Timber product manufacturing has significant potential to reduce the Emissions Intensity Ratio (EIR)

The response - freely downloadable here - is structured in 6 key areas providing useful data and insights on relevant themes such as timber in costruction, forestry, carbon storage, production processes and so on.

For any comments or suggestions, please send an email to info@cti-timber.org

 

[News URL: http://cti-timber.org/content/cti-responds-governments-clean-growth-strategy-remarking-contribution-timber-industry-low]

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