Wood is enjoying a renaissance in popularity. That’s because theenvironmentalperformance of construction materials has become a major priority for building designers.
The environmental benefits of wood are compelling. It scores highly as a sustainable material; a product of nature that locks up the carbon absorbed by growing trees. The recent UN climate change conference, COP 26, highlighted that construction is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions; it also acknowledged that a move to wood as the principal material for homebuilding could reduce emissions significantly.
Using more wood however, is not as simple as it may seem. That’s because the main commercial softwood species lack the durability to deliver the service life required for some construction applications. Fire safety is also an acute consideration in materials selection.
The good news is that the durability of construction timber and joinery can be enhanced using factory pre-treatments to meet extended service life requirements and protect against fungal decay and insects or to effectively retard ignition and the spread of flame.
The Wood Protection Association (WPA) believes that factory-controlled preservative pre-treatment, wood modification and flame-retardant treatment processes enhance the value and performance of wood as a viable construction material. “Realising the full potential of wood as a sustainable, environmentally beneficial material goes hand in glove with realising the benefits of wood protection technology,” says WPA director Gordon Ewbank.
MAKING THE CASE FOR WOOD PROTECTION TECHNOLOGY
To back this up, the WPA has announced its 2022 ‘Making the Most of Wood Conference’ in June will focus on how designers can make the most of wood protection. The aim says WPA director Gordon Ewbank is to highlight the contribution that woodprotection technology must play in the growing move to building with wood. ‘We’ll be turning the spotlight on the challenges faced by the treated wood supply chain and the opportunities that attention to quality and product performance can deliver’ says Gordon who confirms that the line-up of speakers and subjects for the WPA’s 2022 conference has never been more topical and relevant to the future of the wood treatment supply chain.
The WPA conference has four key subjects:
THE NEED FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PRODUCT DECLARATIONS
Keynote speaker Charlie Law, Sustainability Director, Timber Development UK will explain the increasingly important role of Environmental Product Declarations in the specification of construction materials; why they are the key to verifying the sustainability credentials of treated wood and how they can help overcome misperceptions about the use of wood protection products to enhance the performance of construction.
TREATED FENCE POSTS FIELD TRIAL – YEAR 7 PERFORMANCE RESULTS
In 2015 WPA contracted BRE to establish and report on the durability performance of preservative impregnated home-grown timber fence posts. Right now, BRE is carrying out the year 7 inspection of 1,500 pine, spruce, Douglas fir and larch fence posts installed acrosstwo test sites – one in Scotland, one in England. Ed Suttie, BRE Research Director will reveal to conference how the posts are performing and if mechanical incising prior to impregnation really does make a difference.
TTF STRATEGY TO GROW DEMAND FOR PRESERVATIVE TREATED WOOD
Members of the TTF voted overwhelmingly in late 2019 to support a three-stage strategy to grow demand for preservative-treated wood. Stages 1 and 2 are focused on raising buyer awareness on how to specify treated wood correctly and to identify it correctly in sales materials. Stage 3 is a moveto third-party quality verification of the treatment process. Timber Development UK (formerly TTF) CEO Dave Hopkins presents a progress report on the strategy and the continuing action plan.
WOOD MODIFICATION – HOPE OR HYPE?
It’s more than 15 years since woodmodification technologies started to be used on a commercial scale to enhance the durability of wood.Callum Hill, JCH Industrial Ecology Ltd has been at the forefront of wood modification research and development from the outset. Often hailed as the future of treated wood this presentation will highlight the most recent developments and what lies ahead for modified wood.
The WPA hosts a conference every year and Gordon Ewbank says that staging such an event and attracting expert guest speakers would not be possible without the support of sponsors. The main sponsors of the 2022 WPA Conference are the modified wood brand Accoya, the wood preservative supplier Impra, the timber educational portal Wood Campus and the industry magazine Fencing & Landscaping News.