Timber Development UK conference to catalyse change in the construction industry


Construction worker placing roof truss onto house under construction.

A new conference arranged by Timber Development UK aims to supercharge the impact of timber

Over the past 60 years, the world has become a more complex, interconnected place. Many industries have responded in kind – particularly in services and manufacturing – and largely flourished.

Yet, construction looks mostly the same way it did 60 years ago. It is largely reliant on the same carbon-intensive, labour-intensive methodologies. Productivity in construction has remained stagnant for six decades performing consistently below the UK average.

The UK is not alone. Globally, construction lags behind most other industries, and there is no single answer to the productivity puzzle.

Across the developed world, uncertainty, low margins, high turnover and an aging workforce contribute to a fragmented industry, where creating positive, lasting change can be difficult.

There are no quick fixes. Take, for example, the mixed results of the government’s push towards Modern Methods of Construction (MMC) – where Lord Moylan, chair of the Built Environment Committee, found a lack of coherent strategy was undermining its potential.

How Timber Development UK is creating change

Industry associations have largely mirrored the industry. They are siloed by profession and unprepared to deal with overcoming the challenges the built environment faces – or support the change which needs to occur.

Timber Development UK (TDUK) was created to change this. When we came together in 2021, through the merger of the Timber Trade Federation and TRADA, it was with three clear missions:

  • Connect the supply chain: By bringing together the largest supply chain body in the UK, spanning from sawmill to specifier, and all points in between.
  • Lead best practice: By building the largest, comprehensive online library of technical specification and design guidance for our members.
  • Accelerate a low-carbon future: By creating the tools, training and guidance to support the sustainable timber supply chain to lead as a net zero industry.

TDUK aims to be a bridge – a platform which connects any profession that works with timber.

We want everyone to find a home in Timber Development UK: whether they work in silviculture or manufacturing, as a merchant, architect or engineer, whether they specialise in exteriors or interiors, or work in any of the many related services across in the built environment.

And we think this is crucial to overcoming many of the problems which plague the construction industry.

While we might all work with the same material – timber – without a common point of connection, we will end up speaking a different language, unable to work together on our shared priorities; like reducing carbon emissions and increasing building safety.

Or indeed, bring about the success of MMC as described by the Built Environment Committee.

Net zero roadmap, a new library and spaces to collaborate

Since launching in September 2022 with our new merged services, we have made a lot of progress. One of the first publications we launched – on 19 December 2022 – was our Net Zero Roadmap for the timber industry.

We led a coalition of 12 industry bodies, which for the first time fully mapped out the carbon impact of the timber supply chain, and identified a clear route to net zero carbon by 2050. We made it free for all to access.

This collaborative model has since been at the heart of many of our activities. From our new library of more than 150 Timber Knowledge Sheets, written in partnership with Edinburgh Napier University and our own members, guides we’ve created such as Timber Typologies, product quality campaigns such as Make it 4, or our world leading webinars designTimber and engineerTimber each was built in collaboration.

The success of this approach is reflected in these webinar sessions, where we have delivered 132,000 minutes of learning to more than 5,000 learners – all within little more than a year.

Each webinar is built on the premise of collaboration to create a community of practice which connects architects, engineers, contractors and suppliers and showcase how the very best timber buildings come together.

On 26 June, we will be bringing this same approach to a live setting – with our inaugural UK Timber Design Conference, taking place at Hamilton House in London.

Taking on the net zero challenge

The UK Timber Design Conference is focused on accelerating a low carbon transformation of our built environment using timber.

To make this happen, we will be bringing together more than 200 disruptors and market leaders to discuss how we can create systemic change, usher in a net zero future and break down barriers to timber in construction.

Beginning with a client’s perspective, to understand the environmental, social and governance (ESG) drivers helping to push forward timber construction, we will move through to what actions the industry has been taking to build confidence in timber in construction – and what comes next.

We will look at timber districts being built in Sweden and the UK to understand what the future can look like; we’ll showcase exciting opportunities for timber – as shown through the likes of Optoppen and examine how we can reshape the housing market.

Creating shared spaces encourages innovation. Being able to come together in person, meet face-to-face and network with peers all trying to make a difference is invaluable to shaping change.

The construction industry is facing an unprecedented wave of challenges; whether net zero, MMC or regulatory changes from the Future Homes Standard and the Building Safety Act.

So the need to build understanding – and a shared vocabulary across every person who touches timber in the supply chain – has never been greater.

We are grateful to be joined by Human Nature, Whitby Wood, Construction Products Association, Waugh Thistleton, Arup,  Donaldson Timber Systems, Mikhail RichesWhite Arkitekter, Future Homes Hub, Stiff + Trevillion – all leading experts in their fields – as well as supported by our partners in this conference – Swedish Wood and Built by Nature.

More exciting speakers will be announced shortly. With tickets strictly limited, go to our website and secure your place now. Join us, as we build a better world with wood.

 

Liam Macandrew

Head of digital and content

Timber Development UK

timberdevelopment.uk

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