Timber Queensland, in conjunction with Planet Ark Environmental Foundation, is promoting the many benefits of building with timber when it comes to delivering better environmental outcomes in Far North Queensland.

Consistent with the Far North Queensland Regional Plan to promote sustainable buildings and housing affordability, the Cairns, Tablelands and Mareeba local governments are being briefed on why using timber stacks up both environmentally and economically.

“Timber is a renewable, recyclable material with low carbon emissions compared to other building materials, such as steel and concrete,” says Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens. “If half of all the new houses built in Far North Queensland over the past two years were timber maximised, for example, this would have avoided 74,000 tonnes of carbon emissions.”

For these reasons, many governments around the world are adopting a Wood Encouragement Policy (WEP), which requires timber to be considered as a preferred construction material for projects when it is equally fit-for-purpose. Within Australia, 12 councils across four states have already adopted a WEP, including the Fraser Coast and Gympie Councils, who became the first two councils in the state to do so in January 2017.

Stephens says a wood encouragement policy also supports jobs, growth and investment.

“The forest and timber industry makes a significant contribution to the local economy, delivering over 500 direct jobs and a further 750 indirect jobs, in the Mackay, Atherton Tablelands, Cairns and Cassowary Coast local government areas,” he says.

Planet Ark has just released a new report, Wood – Nature Inspired Design, which highlights the many health and social benefits of using timber in public and private building spaces, including lower levels of stress and a closer connection with nature.

“A WEP can promote greater awareness of the beauty, versatility and environmental benefits of timber in construction projects as diverse as libraries and hospitals, playgrounds, wharves and bridges, hotels, mid-rise apartments and office buildings,” says David Rowlinson, the Make It Wood campaign manager with Planet Ark.

A seminar with leading local builders, wood processors, architects and designers has also been held at Cairns Hardware to promote the benefits of using timber.

“There are further opportunities for timber to move into the mid-rise and taller building space, given changes to the National Construction Code and innovations using engineered wood products and other timber building solutions,” says Stefan Gerber, program development manager with WoodSolutions Mid-Rise Advisory Program, who presented at the seminar.