25 February 2022

Supporting timber's net zero journey

TRADA image

Wherever you go nowadays in the construction industry, carbon, in particular embodied carbon and net-zero, is the key topic of conversation. And timber has a good story to tell, writes Timber Development UK sustainability director Charlie Law.


One of the advantages of Timber Development UK, the new organisation formed by the merger of the Timber Trade Federation (TTF) and the Timber Research and Development Association (TRADA), is the ability to create joint committees which can take on initiatives which affect the whole timber supply chain. This of course includes the climate crisis.


With our Sustainability Committee we are bringing together leading experts from across the industry to support our members in their shift towards running net zero businesses. One of the core aims of this group is to look at how we can support our members, and the construction industry at large, to reduce its carbon footprint, particularly around embodied carbon.


While timber is inherently a low-carbon construction product, it is our collective responsibility to do even better. We must clearly communicate the role of timber in a net zero future. That is why we are writing a Net-Zero Carbon Roadmap that explains how the timber industry can achieve net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.


Timber Development UK, on the recommendation of the Carbon Sub-Committee and Sustainability Committee, has adopted the following target, which is linked to the SME Climate Hub Commitment:


“Timber Development UK, recognising that climate change poses a threat to the economy, nature and society-at-large, commits to take action immediately in order to:


  • Support our members in halving greenhouse gas emissions intensity before 2030
  • Achieve net-zero emissions before 2050
  • Disclose our progress on a yearly basis


In doing so, we are proud to be recognised by the United Nations Race to Zero campaign, and join governments, businesses, cities, regions, and universities around the world with the same mission.”


Key to meeting this target is understanding the carbon footprint of the products and services we offer as an industry. This is why our Net-Zero Carbon Roadmap will provide three main outcomes:


  1. Scope out the industry’s emissions profile (Scope 1, 2 & 3): So that we understand where our material carbon emissions sit and develop the emissions profile.
  2. Identify opportunities for decarbonisation: Identify external decarbonisation commitments within the UK, reductions already committed to in the industry, opportunities to further decarbonise the timber industry, scenarios to assess the impact of reduction opportunities, opportunities for dealing with residual emissions.
  3. Produce a net-zero carbon roadmap and a user toolkit: Public facing net-zero roadmap document, along with a toolkit to support members to reduce their carbon emissions.


By understanding our carbon footprint, both as an industry and individual businesses, we can start to target the key areas of carbon intensity and bring these down in line with our 2050 target. Linked to this is the carbon footprint of the products, an area we looked at intensely in our technical paper ‘Assessing the carbon-related impacts and benefits of timber in construction products and buildings’.


We look forward to working with our members on this journey to Net-Zero, and demonstrating that timber is the ultimate, low-carbon circular economy product.