27 July 2021

New TDUK sub-committees lead policy on carbon and circular economy

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TDUK, which recently launched a new cross-sector Sustainability Committee, has established a further two sub-committees over the last month to ensure appropriate direction on the most sustainable use of timber in construction is available.


The Carbon and the Circular Economy Sub-Committees are both formed of members and non-members drawn from various specifier, academia and timber industry backgrounds, and will each contribute to TDUK policy on carbon and the circular economy of timber respectively. So far, their formation has been directed by the results of a membership survey sent out in April 2021, where TTF and TRADA members were invited to comment on key areas of concern.


Consequently, the TDUK Circular Economy Sub-Committee will focus on the various issues impacting upon the specification of new and repurposed timber and other wood-based products in construction, and ensure appropriate guidance is supplied that covers these issues – whether the information is already available and can be promoted, or whether additional guidance must be developed and research commissioned.


The membership survey identified the following areas requiring investigation: packaging; reducing maintenance; optimising the service life of products (through detailing, repair, and modification, for example); extending the life of existing buildings through the use of timber (e.g. rooftop extensions); resource efficiency; flexibility and reusability; end of life data; carbon storage; and development of additional content online to ensure professionals are informed on the circularity of timber.


Planned packages of work include a returnable reusable packaging solutions project and information on designing for optimum service life, flexibility and reusability.


The TDUK Carbon Sub-Committee, meanwhile, will concentrate on the areas associated with carbon relevant to the use of timber and wood-based products in the built environment. Areas of investigation include: Life cycle assessment (LCA) data signposting; understanding the carbon lifecycle and carbon sink within Europe and the UK; benefits of carbon storage in harvested wood products; and LCA case studies.


Current work packages include a paper on accounting for carbon sequestration and the UK Timber Industry Net-Zero Carbon Roadmap/Commitment. The carbon sequestration piece of work is much needed as it details the correct way to account for embodied sequestered carbon within the LCA of a building where wood products are used, or within an environmental product declaration (EPD) of a wood product itself, in line with current UK and European standards. This is particularly timely as it counters the incorrect methods promoted by some organisations, which do not take full account of the stored carbon benefit.


The sub-committees will feed back on progress as required to the TDUK Sustainability Committee, which meets four times per year. Members are encouraged to join these sub-committees to help test ideas and become early adopters of the new practices.


You are invited to contact Charlie Law at claw@susconsol.co.uk if you are interested in joining either of these sub-committees.