Net Zero Strategy – Our Response

October 26, 2021

Just ahead of COP26 in Glasgow in November the Government have released their much-anticipated Net Zero Strategy: Build Back Greener, focusing on reducing emissions and supporting the transition across the economy to reach net zero by 2050 – and in some areas by 2035.

Boris Johnson talks of the UK in a leadership role: “By moving first and taking bold action, we will build a defining competitive edge in electric vehicles, offshore wind, carbon capture technology and more, whilst supporting people and businesses along the way.”

This market-led strategy seeks to make smart governmental interventions to stimulate both supply and demand for low carbon technologies and leverage significant private investment in deploying the technologies we need for net zero at-scale and at lower cost for consumers.

The government has vowed to promote the use of timber in low-rise construction – prioritising the material in its own procurement, and funding research into ‘innovative timber products’.

The Policy roadmap to increase the use of timber in construction comes under the Natural Resources, Waste & F-Gases policy.  The construction industry will play a major part in the journey to net zero especially with regards to carbon capture technology, through the materials used in construction, through insulation, and the new methods used to heat homes.  The Government aims to support action in the construction sector by improving reporting on embodied carbon in buildings and infrastructure with a view to exploring a maximum level for new builds in the future as they acknowledged that timber has the lowest embodied carbon of any mainstream building materials – the way to achieve net zero carbon goals is by way of material substitution where appropriate, namely timber usage. The timber frame industry has long been acknowledged across Scotland and now, as demonstrated by our own growth and expansion across the UK, the benefits of building in timber frame are being utilised by major housebuilders nationwide.

The continued investment outlined in the report includes the decarbonisation of homes, heat and buildings, transport and infrastructure, together with the development of ‘innovative timber products’ as the Government commits to moving to a more sustainable and circular economy through funding  research.   We lead the way on innovation and environmentally- aware homes – our Sigma House was the first UK built zero carbon home.  Our work on AIMC4 and the current Innovate UK-funded AIMCH project also demonstrates our advances in construction technology, methodology and materials, and we plan to continue to improve and enhance manufacturing processes and on-site installations to meet both health and safety and environmental targets.

The government also pledged to work with Homes England and its partners to ‘explore ways to increase timber use in delivery of housing programmes’ and ‘increase public demand for sustainably sourced timber through procurement policies’.  We welcomed Homes England to our Witney manufacturing centre in October 2019 to demonstrate how modern methods of construction and timber frame manufacturing represents the sustainable future of construction and delivery of large-scale housing solutions, which will continue to be a key focus for policy makers and key stakeholders across the industry.

The role of timber construction is set to be highlighted during the COP26 climate summit in Glasgow at a number of events.  We are speaking at the Wood for Good conference which takes place on 2nd November at the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre as part of the wider BE@COP26 showcase.  This conference will cover: engineering the future of construction; bringing timber construction into the mainstream; managing sustainable forests; and growing zero carbon communities and we’re looking forward to sharing insights with fellow industry thought leaders.

Overall, our work to building a sustainable future continues.    We pride ourselves on working with our planet’s only renewable building materials – timber, the solution to achieving net zero carbon targets in construction. Our ambition is to work in partnership with our supply chain and installation partners to operate responsibly and resource efficiently to strengthen our supply of energy efficient low carbon building systems and help the UK reach the net zero carbon targets.