Stephen takes on a new ven­ture

Australasian Timber - - ASSOCIATIONS - Stephen can be con­tacted on step­mit61@gmail.com or 0432 860 100.

AF­TER NINE years as Sus­tain­abil­ity Man­ager with the Tim­ber De­vel­op­ment As­so­ci­a­tion in New South Wales Stephen Mitchell has moved on and started his own busi­ness – Stephen Mitchell As­so­ciates.

He started out with very lit­tle knowl­edge of tim­ber, how­ever, af­ter a lot read­ing and talk­ing with of tim­ber peo­ple who know a lot more than I did I learnt some­thing new every day, enough to be fairly use­ful any­way.

“Look­ing back at my time with As­so­ci­a­tion I am proud of the projects I com­pleted for the tim­ber in­dus­try.

“I was orig­i­nally em­ployed to han­dle tim­ber waste re­duc­tion and re­cy­cling projects and help man­age in­dus­try re­sponse to CCA treated tim­ber list­ing as a waste of con­cern by a num­ber of Gov­ern­ments. The in­dus­try re­sponded and we have seen a huge in­crease in the amount of waste tim­ber re­cy­cled into fuel, an­i­mal bed­ding and mulch ma­te­ri­als around Aus­tralia. Gov­ern­ments have also de­vel­oped a much bet­ter ap­pre­ci­a­tion of the diver­sity of wood treat­ments and the large amount re­search and mar­ket de­vel­op­ment projects we did, all avail­able on www. tim­ber­stew­ard­ship.org.au. These have un­der­pinned a much more sup­port­ive ap­proach by Gov­ern­ments in work­ing with in­dus­try rather than ap­ply­ing a big stick.

“I also un­der­took a whole heap more di­verse projects as in­dus­try needs de­vel­oped. I’m par­tic­u­larly pleased with my fi­nal project – co-de­vel­op­ing the En­vi­ron­men­tal Prod­uct Dec­la­ra­tions (EPDs) for Aus­tralian sawn soft­wood, sawn hard­wood, par­ti­cle­board, MDF and ply­wood. These dec­la­ra­tion doc­u­ments. With these EPDs the Aus­tralian tim­ber in­dus­try fi­nally has some cred­i­ble and ver­i­fied claims about the en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts of their prod­ucts – par­tic­u­larly their ‘bet­ter than car­bon neu­tral’ foot­print. The EPDs can be used by every Aus­tralian pro­ducer of tim­ber in their own marketing. They can also be used by For­est and Wood Prod­ucts Aus­tralia mem­bers to as­sist buy­ers of their tim­ber to claim cred­its un­der the Green Star build­ing rat­ing sys­tem,” he says. “I’m also proud of the tools I de­vel­oped with the tim­ber in­dus­try to as­sist tim­ber im­porters and do­mes­tic pro­ces­sors com­ply with the anti-il­le­gal log­ging leg­is­la­tion. A Gottstein Fel­low­ship in 2013 and re­search in US and Europe greatly in­formed this work and helped make the freely avail­able tools (via www. tim­ber­duedili­gence.com.au) re­ally use­ful to over 550 com­pa­nies to date. These tools are also the ba­sis for the Aus­tralian Tim­ber Im­porters Fed­er­a­tion’s (ATIF) le­gal­ity com­pli­ance tool­kit. I will con­tinue work­ing with ATIF on this to help wood prod­uct im­porters un­der­take the due dili­gence steps needed to com­ply with the anti-il­le­gal log­ging laws. See­ing the need for adapt­ing the tools and tem­plates peo­ple’s par­tic­u­lar cir­cum­stances is one of the rea­sons why I have set up my own busi­ness to carry on this work as­sist­ing com­pa­nies and con­duct­ing in­de­pen­dent re­search.

“My in­volve­ment in the in­spi­ra­tional and tech­ni­cal pre­sen­ta­tions de­liv­ered to spec­i­fiers in NSW and ACT as part of For­est and Wood Prod­uct (FWPA) Aus­tralia’s great WoodSo­lu­tions pro­gram was also a source of sat­is­fac­tion. I ended up given over 200 pre­sen­ta­tions to over 2,000 ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers in NSW, Can­berra and Ade­laide. WoodSo­lu­tions is an ex­cel­lent pro­gram and I have seen the in­ter­est in spec­i­fy­ing tim­ber, par­tic­u­larly in com­mer­cial and multi-res­i­den­tial projects, rise as­tro­nom­i­cally in the last few years. I’ve seen spec­i­fiers’ knowl­edge and con­fi­dence in us­ing tim­ber rise steeply. The last WoodSo­lu­tions sem­i­nar I or­gan­ised for TDA at­tracted over 170 ar­chi­tects, en­gi­neers and de­vel­op­ers. I am still amazed ba­sic knowl­edge about nat­u­ral dura­bil­ity and preser­va­tive treat­ment has just not been taught to de­sign­ers at uni­ver­sity level.

“Pre­par­ing the mag­a­zine for the Tim­ber De­sign Awards was also a real eye-opener in terms of see­ing and what de­sign­ers are do­ing with tim­ber around Aus­tralia. It was also an eye-opener see­ing how much money some peo­ple have to spend! Be­ing in­spired by this was also the rea­son I have used so many tim­ber prod­ucts in my own ren­o­va­tion. I last counted 12 dif­fer­ent wood prod­ucts and species of sawn tim­ber, from 4 coun­tries – used in­ter­nally and ex­ter­nally, in my small ren­o­va­tion. It is great to put all my knowl­edge into prac­tice – and save a bit of money too!

“I’m look­ing for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to help peo­ple in the tim­ber in­dus­try and help­ing in­crease ca­pac­ity to take ad­van­tage of tim­ber’s nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­men­tal ad­van­tage,” he said.

Stephen Mitchell As­so­ciates has been es­tab­lished to pro­vide tech­ni­cal and ed­u­ca­tion con­sult­ing ser­vices in the ar­eas of: • Due Dili­gence for Il­le­gally Logged

Wood • Waste Re­duc­tion and Re­cy­cling • Sus­tain­able and Green Build­ing.

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