Build Back Better With Timber

Net zero carbon targets are putting material use in the spotlight across many parts of the construction sector. The Wood CO2ts less campaign is putting the spotlight on using more timber to help the UK to ‘build back better’. When the Wood CO2ts less campaign began it development, Swedish Wood worked together with Wood for Good and with the UK timber industry, with two things in mind: how building with wood can contribute to slowing global heating through carbon capture and how the timber industry’s offsite capability can contribute to solving the housing problem.

This means helping government meet two of its targets – to reach net zero carbon by 2050 and, as enshrined in its 2019 manifesto, to ‘continue our progress towards our target of 300,000 homes a year by the mid-2020s’. The importance of encouraging timber construction has been recognised by government advisors including Chris Stark, Head of the Committee on Climate Change, who said: “Displacing cement, brick and steel with wood means more than double the carbon savings in buildings overall. With encouragement from the government, we could triple the amount of carbon locked into buildings – one of the simplest steps we can take to help meet the UK’s climate goals.”

The Wood CO2ts less campaign has been widely adopted by the UK timber industry since its launch in the summer of 2020, using the collective mark registered by Wood for Good, and the fact-based promotional items, such as advertisements and social media posts, all taking respondents to the main information site woodforgood.com/CO2 with its wealth of data, publications, videos and reports. Advertisements, co-funded and cobranded with Wood for Good, Confor, the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and the Structural Timber Association (STA), have appeared in the Daily Telegraph, plus many other papers and magazines, along with digital promotion in the architects’ and local authority press and a major Facebook advertising presence.

Member companies are also adopting the campaign, sign posting Wood CO2ts less on their websites, using the videos and adapting the social media posts to suit their own brands and customers. 
This is just the beginning. The campaign will continue throughout 2021 and beyond, co-ordinated by Wood for Good with the support of Swedish Wood and the UK industry timber trade associations. It will be backed by new research, supported by new promotional materials and used by ever more timber companies to continue to make the case for the recommendation made in the executive summary of the Committee on Climate Change’s 2019 report, ‘UK Housing; Fit for the Future?’

that government: “Develop new policies to support a substantial increase in the use of wood in construction.”

Recently the world has been turned upside down by COVID-19, pushing the immediacy of global warming into the background. But the campaign reminds us we all have a responsibility to the future to turn the talk back to how we rebuild the country through a new Green Economy into a reality. Metaphorically and literally we need to build back better – in wood. There’s no shortage of sustainably produced timber and there’s no shortage of architects producing inspirational, low-energy, low-carbon, healthy buildings in wood.

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