Demonstrator Project Using Homegrown Timber Now Underway

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A consortium of different groups has come together to prove the business case for using homegrown Scottish timber in UK construction, with a pilot project now underway looking into the manufacturing of the structural elements of buildings using the material, which could potentially give the Scottish economy and the industry’s environmental impact a very real boost.

The group, made up of the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre (CSIC), Edinburgh Napier University Centre for Offsite Construction and Innovative Structures, SNRG, the Confederation of Forest Industries and Scottish Forestry, has now succeeded in securing funding from Innovate’s UK Sustainable Innovation Fund for the project.

The project itself will involve the manufacturing of the first Scottish-sourced cross laminated timber and nail laminated timber housing unit, including floor, roof and wall, using the only vacuum press in the UK.

It’s hoped that it will result in mainstream adoption of homegrown timber in Scotland and the UK as a whole, as well as leading to the development of the country’s first engineered timber manufacturing plant.

Analysis shows that approximately 85 per cent of all new homes in Scotland are built using timber. And in 2018, it was found that the UK was the second largest net importer of forest products in the world, second only to China.

Innovation manager at the CSIC Sam Hart described the project as an important milestone in the transition to more widespread adoption of homegrown timber.

“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,” he went on to add.

Earlier in the year, the CSIC also announced that it would be championing innovation in both the construction and manufacturing sectors via a new Make It Smart Hub, which will support and encourage small to medium-sized enterprises in both industries to learn, apply and share new skills, processes and technologies to improve productivity and drive inclusive growth.

The hub has been designed to provide multiple channels and make it easier for businesses to collaborate, learn and apply innovation across their businesses, no matter where they’re based, helping them to unlock new economic opportunities and secure a competitive advantage.

In June, chief executive of the CSIC Stephen Good observed that as the sectors restart after the coronavirus crisis, innovative solutions will become more important as companies try to remain competitive and deliver increased value outcomes – and this new project should encourage uptake of new solutions.

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