Tasmania is developing a new policy that will require wood to be considered as the first-choice construction material during the initial stages of public building projects.
Making this announcement, State Treasurer Peter Gutwein said that Tasmania will be the first state in Australia to develop a wood encouragement policy, following recent changes to the National Construction Code that allow for timber products such as CLT to be utilised in more construction projects. The policy requires responsibly sourced wood to be considered, where feasible, in all new-build and refurbishment projects.
Welcoming the announcement, Planet Ark CEO Paul Klymenko commented that responsibly sourced, certified wood delivered significant positive environmental outcomes to the building project including the ability to store carbon and prevent the release of emissions by replacing carbon intensive materials like steel and concrete; proven health and wellbeing benefits to occupants; as well as its renewability, cost-effectiveness and quick construction advantages.
More than 20 per cent of Australia’s carbon emissions come from constructing and maintaining the built environment; switching to wood as a major building material will play an important role in addressing the effects of climate change in the country.
Similar wood encouragement policies have been adopted by Latrobe City Council and Wellington Shire in Victoria as well as around the world, including Rotorua in New Zealand, Hackney in London, British Columbia in Canada, Finland, France and The Netherlands.
The Library at the Dock in Melbourne is Australia's first six-star Green Star council-owned building constructed from modern engineered mass timber. It stores 500 tonnes of carbon in its cross-laminated timber structure, locking it out of the atmosphere for the life of the building.
Exposure to wood products and interiors has positive physiological and psychological health benefits, similar to those created by spending time in nature, according to Planet Ark’s Wood – Housing, Health, Humanity report, commissioned for the Make it Wood campaign.
Klymenko said research shows that being surrounded by wood at home, work or school has positive effects on the body, the brain and the environment, and can even speed up patient recovery times.
Architects involved in the design of buildings for healing and learning are also increasingly incorporating wood into their structures to tap into these health and wellbeing benefits.