The environmental benefits of responsibly sourced wood cannot be overstated. Even environmental groups such as Planet Ark are getting on board – the organisation’s Make It Wood – Do Your World Some Good campaign may have raised some eyebrows in the eco world, but it is a definite harbinger of positive change for the timber industry and for the planet.
“Imagine a building product which provides clean oxygen for the atmosphere, removes carbon dioxide and increases in value each time it is re-used. Imagine a product which can store carbon forever. Imagine a building product which has been in use for thousands of years. Yep, that’s right it’s wood. ” says Michael Kennedy, CEO and founder of Kennedy’s Timbers, which supplies recycled, reclaimed and sustainable timber products.
Michael started the company 22 years ago after he tired of working in the corporate world.
“I wanted to start a business which was making a positive environmental contribution and where there was opportunities to innovate, grow and expand,” he says. “My grandfather was a timber boat builder and I had a strong personal interest in timber and environmental causes and thought the reclaimed timber industry would be a perfect platform for me to pursue both.”
The products the company sells have changed significantly over the past two decades. “In the early days it was mostly about recycled hoop pine and Oregon for renovations and furniture makers, with some large timbers for feature projects.
We now have an extensive range of timber applications include cladding, flooring, decking, feature posts and beams, stair rails and treads, bench tops, joinery timbers and specialised orders. Our timbers are recognised for their dependability, durability, versatility and commitment to the environment.”
The company started off in North Brisbane, but they have now expanded with operations in both Melbourne and Sydney, along with a strong distributor in Perth.
“The shores of Australia has not stopped us; we have supplied many projects to our neighbours in New Zealand, Japan, Malaysia and even a few in Dubai,” Michael says.
A bountiful source
Throughout Australia there are over 100 buildings demolished each week and many contain a rich source of recycled timber. There are also thousands of timber bridges and in excess of 5,000,000 power poles in service which require replacement.
“All of these sources provide timber resources,” Michael says. “As these timber structures come to the end of their design life, recycling the timber make a positive environmental story. Rather than having this timber crunched and dumped, these bridges contain Class 1 durability ‘royal species’ of Australian hardwood well suited to being recycled into a host of applications.”
The ultimate in beneficial use and re-use for the world’s most carbon friendly building product is the humble power pole. Not only is the whole of the tree harvested from forests used (excluding bark and branches), once the pole reaches the end of its in-situ design life, the wood recycled from the pole can be re-used.
As well as recycled wood, Kennedy’s also supplies new sustainable timber from managed forests.
“Our new timbers are sustainable as they have been harvested in an ecologically responsible way,” Michael says. “The forest they are sourced from are managed so they can be harvested again – and this process can go on forever.”
A sustainable business
Kennedys conduct their entire business model on achieving beneficial environmental outcomes.
“From diverting waste timber into beneficial reuse applications through to use of green power, environmental commitment is in our blood,” Michael says. “It’s a foundation on which our business was started and continues to grow.”
The company also makes bespoke furniture. The joinery team have created bespoke products from study desktops to a 3m x 3m front entry gate to a home.
“Some memorable joinery jobs include seven 12m wide timber trusses that were used at Westfield North Lakes refurbishment, as well as many designs of timber screenings used in restaurant and retail fitouts,” Michael says. “Our joinery team claim that no job is too hard to do. We are yet to prove them wrong!”
There are many big projects in the pipeline for Kennedy’s, and the company has also worked on many signature projects over the years, including Old Parliament House inCanberra, Cockle Bay Wharf in Sydney, Elizabeth Quay in Perth and Melbourne’s Docklands.
As the importance of using sustainable materials is gaining awareness, the company has definitely seen an increase in customers requesting sustainable or recycled timber in recent years.
“People are become more and more conscious of their own environmental footprint,” Michael says. “Timber and recycled timber have a great story to tell and make a positive difference to storing carbon and reducing our environmental footprint.
Much more to be done
The timber industry has definitely become more sustainable, but more importantly, the message that timber is an environmentally-friendly product is getting out there.
“It has always had a positive environmental story to tell but has battled against the political shades of green peddled by out-of-touch lobby groups,” Michael says. “We are starting to see the true environmentalists supporting of the timber industry and recognising the key to a reduced carbon footprint is greater sustainable timber use – including increased timber recycling.”
Michael believes that it is essential that the industry do more to educate the public about the benefits of using timber.
“The industry needs to promote the story more,” he says. “There’s a great opportunity for people in the industry to share the positive message that timber has. So often it gets lost in the noise that some organisations choose to pursue.
“Unfortunately some environmental groups have built their business model on peddling lies about the timber industry, so while they privately support greater timber use, public support of the timber industry would be seen as damaging their credibility, so some are yet to make the smart environmental step.
“My vision of the future of the industry is one where all environmental groups are strong advocates for the timber industry and that in Australia the public love and embrace the timber industry as a solution to reducing our carbon footprint.”
Find out more about Kennedy’s Timber at kennedystimbers.com.au.
Find out more about Planet Ark at planetark.org.