Push to boost use of pre­fab­ri­cated tim­ber in Aus­tralia

Australasian Timber - - NEWS -

An in­dus­try-led move­ment is un­der­way to in­crease the ac­cep­tance and use of pre­fab­ri­cated tim­ber build­ing (PTB) sys­tems for large scale projects in Aus­tralia.

As part of a FWPA-funded project, re­searchers have been look­ing at the driv­ers for, and bar­ri­ers to, the in­creased use of PTB sys­tems in Class 2 to 9 com­mer­cial build­ings, in­clud­ing apart­ments, ho­tels, of­fices and schools.

The ben­e­fits of the ma­te­rial are well-known, in­clud­ing a high strength-to-weight ra­tio, de­sign and con­struc­tion flex­i­bil­ity, gen­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal cre­den­tials in­clud­ing car­bon stor­age, and pre­fab­ri­ca­tion’s suit­abil­ity for use on re­stricted ac­cess and other dif­fi­cult sites.

In ad­di­tion, leg­isla­tive con­straints have now largely been re­moved, thanks to changes to the 2016 Na­tional Con­struc­tion Code. In­creased aware­ness of suc­cess­ful de­vel­op­ments util­is­ing PTB sys­tems due to wide­spread me­dia cov­er­age and mul­ti­ple award wins, cou­pled with the con­tin­ued growth and pop­u­la­tion den­sity of Aus­tralian cities and re­gional cen­tres, means that op­por­tu­ni­ties for the ma­te­rial’s use will only in­crease.

De­spite the ob­vi­ous at­trac­tions, some per­ceived and real bar­ri­ers con­tinue to have an in­hibit­ing ef­fect on the up­take of PTB sys­tems. Es­tab­lished con­ven­tions de­fault­ing to steel and con­crete, the need for an ac­ces­si­ble and af­ford­able sup­ply chain, en­sur­ing ef­fec­tive in­dus­try train­ing, and a lack of proac­tive com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the vi­a­bil­ity and ben­e­fits of tim­ber al­ter­na­tives con­tinue to tem­per op­por­tu­ni­ties.

To over­come these bar­ri­ers and lever­age mo­men­tum, an in­creas­ing num­ber of new PTB so­lu­tions are be­ing de­vel­oped and com­mer­cialised to com­pete with both tra­di­tional con­struc­tion meth­ods and in­creas­ingly so­phis­ti­cated steel and con­crete pre­fab­ri­cated so­lu­tions. Tech­ni­cal so­lu­tions are now be­ing es­tab­lished for many of the is­sues as­so­ci­ated with PTB sys­tems which, along with con­tin­ued in­dus­try ed­u­ca­tion, are likely to be the key means of in­flu­enc­ing their in­creased us­age.

“An in­crease in large scale mid-rise PTBs, along­side the in­creas­ing na­tion­al­i­sa­tion and in­ter­na­tion­al­i­sa­tion of the top tier build­ing com­pa­nies, sug­gests mar­ket ac­cep­tance will grow as

PTB build­ings in­creas­ingly be­come viewed as the norm,” said Ric Sin­clair, Man­ag­ing Di­rec­tor of FWPA.

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