New mid-rise timber advisors aim to get the market moving
Information and advice on making the most of the cost, time and other advantages of timber building systems
TO ACCELERATE the uptake of timber framing and massive timber building systems in mid-rise projects in accordance with the recent changes to the National Construction Code, the new WoodSolutions team of design, engineering, construction and development specialists has started a pilot program in Melbourne, complemented by a smaller-scale activity in Brisbane.
Earlier this year, a series of workshops, facilitated by Forest and Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and attended by senior industry representatives, saw Jennifer Cover, Executive Director of the United States’ WoodWorks program (www.woodworks.org) outline the structure and achievements of the US wood field force advisors. Based on their considerable success, a similar model was developed for trial in the Australian market.
Extensive consultation with industry and potential sponsors outlined the scope and operations of the new Technical Field Force Pilot Project, with funds in excess of $1.5 million over three years being committed from a large number of industry sponsors including key gold sponsors who are AKD, Australian Sustainable Hardwoods, Bowens, Hyne Timber, Meyer Timber, Parkside Timber, Tillings, Timberlink, Timber Queensland, XLAM and Wesbeam with matching contributions from the Australian Government via FWPA.
“This is an exciting development for our industry,” said Ric Sinclair, FWPA’s managing director. “First, we undertook the research, secured the code change to allow market access and now we have a dedicated program to encourage uptake of the research by the building community. Our high calibre professional team is focussed on market extension, and we know from research that it is important to get involved in the early stages of projects to ensure adoption.”
With extensive experience in property development, construction, timber engineering and architecture, the WoodSolutions team of Program Development Managers are ideally placed to liaise with development, design and construction professionals, providing generic information and advice on making the most of the cost, time and other advantages of timber building systems.
Melbourne-based Gerry Neylan, a construction, planning and property specialist and WoodSolutions team member, said this was a great opportunity to engage with the marketplace about constructing new projects more quickly, quietly and safely – while also addressing issues such as social responsibility and sustainability. Sentiments that were echoed by Brisbane-based Stefan Gerber, a timber engineer, who added that after only a few weeks he is already finding many designers and engineers are highly interested in discovering more about new opportunities with timber.
“Typically, the outputs of research, even following a building code change of this order, we would expect changes in design and building practices and material specifications to take many years to flow through the market,” explained Mr Sinclair. “This new program will substantially reduce the uptake time and generate greater sales volumes for timber products. The challenge for our industry is to ensure that the whole supply chain is knowledgeable, prepared and able to meet the increased demand.”
If you would like to know more about the pilot program and the benefits of becoming a financial supporter, email Ric Sinclair at ric.sinclair@fwpa. com.au.