Although sustainability has long been a critical focus for the design and construction industry, the term itself is sometimes used without a clear definition or substantive objective, making it merely a buzzword rather than a strategic, meaningful and actionable concept. However, in recent years, environmental considerations have galvanised the global architecture and design industry – with projects like WoodSolutions’ Resilient Timber Homes, inspiring a sense of accountability and offering a clear and efficient path to a better future.

The Resilient Timber Homes program is a groundbreaking initiative that addresses the urgent need for viable solutions in the face of climate change. By promoting the use of sustainable wood materials, the program empowers industry professionals to build resilient dwellings that can help mitigate, and withstand, challenges facing communities around the world.

“Wood is one of, if not the oldest building material in the world. It is renewable and is sustainably managed in Australia which benefits both the growing demand in the built environment, as well as the growing need to protect our natural environment,” says Paolo Lavisci, Program Manager of WoodSolutions Resilient Timber Homes. “If we collaborate and innovate the way we perceive the built environment, we can choose materials and techniques that address the socio-economic and the environmental bottom line that is so important to our businesses and the planet.”

Paolo adds that this element of collaboration is fostered through the Design Competition component of the program. “The contest encourages cooperation from people across the design and build industry in creating a plan and approach on how we can address resilience toward a changing climate,” she says. “It also works as a driver of growth, and a path forward to begin building the best and most sustainable designs so that work and discovery can be shared throughout the industry.”

The initiative is certainly a timely response to the extreme weather events that have been marking the Australian experience across the continent. Floods, bushfires and unexpected weather pattern shifts have increased in recent years, causing havoc in local communities and economies. In fact, reports from The Insurance Council of Australia paint a somewhat bleak picture of the future Down Under, stating that Australians are five times more likely to be displaced by a natural disaster than someone living in Europe. That’s why, Paolo adds, fostering resilience is paramount.

“In addition to reducing the impact and cost of disasters, building resilience delivers additional social and economic benefits. These include jobs, new skills, investment, higher business and community confidence and consumer benefits arising from lower insurance premiums, for example. Meanwhile, community resilience programs strengthen bonds between communities and neighbourhoods.”

While building a resilient dwelling made with sustainable wood materials might seem inconsequential in the scale of the overwhelming climate change challenges, to WoodSolutions it is anything but. “Each sustainable and resilient timber home, new or upgraded, may seem like a small drop in the ocean,” states Paolo firmly. “But it’s a decision on our future, and that of our grandchildren. And it’s our way to walk the talk.”