Building breakthrough

More Scots timber poised for use in UK construction

Scots timber is undergoing tests

More Scottish timber could be used in UK construction following a project under way to test its suitability for a range of purposes.

Timber grown in the UK has been used for non-structural applications, such as fencing and palettes. But research into processing and treatment may see it more widely adopted – and significantly reduce building costs.

A consortium of industry partners has secured funding from Innovate UK’s Sustainable Innovation Fund to prove the business case for using Scottish timber to create the structural elements of buildings and cut down on imported timber.

Analysis has suggested that around 85% of all new homes in Scotland are built using timber and recent UK Government statistics show that, in 2018, the UK was the world’s second largest net importer of forest products – including timber – behind only China.

Sam Hart, innovation manager at Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), one of the partners, said: “The project is an important milestone in the move towards more mainstream use of home-grown timber in the UK’s construction sector, the majority of which is grown in Scotland.

“Research has proven that, with the right treatment and processing, our timber can be used for a wide variety of higher-value purposes beyond its relatively limited set of current applications.

“Through its increased use in commercial construction and housebuilding, we can also reduce our reliance on imported timber.

“The next step from there will be to make the industry aware of this transformational potential and make it a reality.

“Greater use of our natural and renewable resources will deliver a range of environmental, cost, and economic benefits for Scotland and the wider UK. COP26 is a once in a generation opportunity to showcase what can be achieved.”

The consortium’s research will be showcased at next year’s climate change summit in Glasgow.

The partners are Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), Edinburgh Napier University (ENU) Centre for Offsite Construction and Innovative Structures (COCIS), Scottish Forestry, Confederation of Forest Industries (Confor), and SNRG.

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