More wood use in mid-rise build­ings by 2030

New Zealand Logger - - Dana Forestry Conference -

SAWMILL OWNER, MARTY VERRY, RECK­ONS THE USE OF en­gi­neered tim­ber in mid-rise build­ings will be the ‘norm’ by 2030.

The owner of Ro­torua-based Red Stag told the 2017 DANA Forestry Con­fer­ence last month that Aus­tralia has leap-frogged New Zealand in wood use in com­mer­cial build­ings over the past ten years and we need to catch up.

“If wood is faster, cheaper, bet­ter for the en­vi­ron­ment, has less waste and less traf­fic and noise, and meets the needs of Aus­tralia, and we can prove all th­ese things here and put in a sys­tem­atic process to build the de­mand and the com­pe­ten­cies and ca­pa­bil­i­ties in New Zealand, then why should wood not be the norm in New Zealand in 2030,” he says.

Mr Verry was quot­ing fig­ures from Aus­traliam quan­tity sur­vey anal­y­sis that showed on a 7-storey res­i­den­tial build­ing of 5,500m2 made with en­gi­neered tim­ber, the struc­ture costs were 12% lower than tra­di­tional meth­ods, and it was six weeks quicker to build, with crane time be­ing a sig­nif­i­cant cost-saver.

The same anal­y­sis car­ried out on a 13,000m2 build­ing saw 8% lower struc­ture costs and nine fewer weeks to build.

Fewer peo­ple are needed on site dur­ing the con­struc­tion phase, which also meant re­duced risks for in­juries.

Mr Verry says that even if wood grabbed only a 25% share of the midrise com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion mar­ket in this coun­try it would still dou­ble the size of our struc­tural fram­ing in­dus­try. This busi­ness alone would be worth around $375 mil­lion, or the equiv­a­lent of the fram­ing in­dus­try as it stands to­day.

But, as Mr Verry points out, there are a num­ber of road­blocks that need to be cleared that are cur­rently pre­vent­ing the up­take of en­gi­neered wood in com­mer­cial con­struc­tion. Among th­ese are ques­tion marks over the sup­ply of en­gi­neered wood prod­ucts, whether there is enough ex­per­tise and un­der­stand­ing among devel­op­ers, ar­chi­tects, quan­tity sur­vey­ors and en­gi­neers, as well as whether coun­cils are likely to sign off the plans.

The so­lu­tion to re­mov­ing th­ese road­blocks, ac­cord­ing to Mr Verry, is to com­mis­sion projects that can be used as ref­er­ence points by devel­op­ers, ar­chi­tects, quan­tity sur­vey­ors, en­gi­neers and coun­cil plan­ners. Such projects would be doc­u­mented and their de­tails be made read­ily avail­able to those au­di­ences to prove the ad­van­tages of us­ing en­gi­neered wood.

And Mr Verry is propos­ing to un­der­take such a project him­self, in or­der to kick-start the process.

He out­lined a plan that he is cur­rently back­ing to build a 5-storey apart­ment block at the Clear­wa­ter Re­sort in Christchurch, which will be built us­ing var­i­ous types of en­gi­neered wood, in­clud­ing New Zealand­made Cross Lam­i­nated Tim­ber (CLT) in the floors, lift shafts and stair­wells, Glu­lam por­tals and pre-fab­ri­cated ex­te­rior brac­ing pan­els.

All de­tails of the projects would be doc­u­mented and costs mea­sured as part of the case study to be pub­lished in book­let form as well as go­ing onto a web­site. In­ter­ested par­ties would be in­vited to view the project dur­ing and af­ter con­struc­tion. The projects would also be show­cased through sem­i­nars, con­fer­ences, in­vestor/con­struc­tor brief­ings, along with brief­ings with pro­fes­sion­als, such as ar­chi­tects and en­gi­neers.

This ex­er­cise would need to be re­peated with other mid-rise projects, un­til in­vestors, devel­op­ers, pro­fes­sion­als and plan­ners were com­fort­able with the idea of mid-rise tim­ber build­ings.

If the plan suc­ceeds, Mr Verry en­vis­ages a ma­jor ex­pan­sion of tim­ber pro­duc­tion fa­cil­i­ties in New Zealand by 2030 to meet the de­mand, in­clud­ing two or three more CLT plants and sev­eral spe­cial­ist pre­fab­ri­ca­tion man­u­fac­tur­ers, as well as more frame and truss com­pa­nies.

To aid this vi­sion, Mr Verry still be­lieves the gov­ern­ment should adopt a ‘wood first’ pol­icy for its own build­ing projects.

He points out that in­creased use of tim­ber in mid-size com­mer­cial and res­i­den­tial build­ings is vi­tal to the forestry in­dus­try be­cause new homes are re­duc­ing in size and will use less wood fram­ing in the fu­ture. Greater adop­tion of en­gi­neered tim­ber is the way to off­set this trend.

• CLT man­u­fac­turer, XLam, re­cently an­nounced plans to ex­pand its Nel­son man­u­fac­tur­ing fa­cil­ity by adding an ex­tra com­puter-con­trolled CNC fabri­ca­tion ma­chine to meet its com­mit­ments for CLT prod­ucts. Across the Tas­man, XLams’s joint-ven­ture to build a large plant be­tween Mel­bourne and Syd­ney has just pro­duced its first CLT panel as it goes through the com­mis­sion­ing stage.


Mid-rise en­gi­neered wood projects like the Kaik­oura Coun­cil Of­fice build­ing could be the norm by 2030.

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