Ed Suttie talks about the movement, the business, the catalyst & inspiration that is Grown in Britain
Ed Suttie leads Sustainable Materials research at the Building Research Establishment, the home of construction and sustainability innovation for over ninety years and is a key member of the Grown in Britain Executive.
Research and Innovation projects are the lifeblood of any technology sector and no more so than the timber industry, which when presented as part of the construction industry offers an amazing array of products including low carbon solutions for buildings and a renewable energy source.
Research is a key component for our success and looking back over the year there are a number of highlights….
- The Enterprise Centre at the University of East Anglia, a pioneering example of how supply chain, market and material research presented the case for the use of Thetford forest timber in higher value construction uses. This was picked up and used and we have an exemplar building being built to Passivhaus standards, targeting BREEAM outstanding using amongst other local materials hundreds of tonnes of Thetford forest timber for the studs and Larson trusses – providing better value for the forester and the rural economy of East Anglia and a low impact solution for the environment and the building client.
- The largest field trial of British softwoods undertaken in a generation is underway with Grown in Britain support led by the Wood Protection Association. This is a long term performance test of timber in sites in Scotland and in England that will underpin quality and performance standards for wood use in ground contact applications such as fencing. Building confidence, shoring up and expanding a key market for British timber.
- Homegrown Ash modification. With innovation funding from the South West we have a project with Tyler Hardwoods and Vastern Timber looking at the thermal modification of British ash. This may sound unremarkable, but becomes more so considering the 10s of thousands of m3 of British ash timber that will be flowing into the market in the next 15 years, the challenges for
finding added value enduses for some of that timber and the extraordinary properties of thermal modification. Thermally modified ash is more durable, morestable, and for some more aesthetically pleasing than the starting material. All attributes that will open new markets for British ash.
In addition this work and wider activities have started to coalesce the hardwood market proposition across the UK, bringing together processors and main contractors to challenge and engage the supply chain, to present products, to understand needs – a real step out of obscurity. And a vital step for the future of our strategy and the viability of many UK woodlands and businesses.
Looking forward we are committed to continuing with pace:
We have Corsican pine work with Accsys Technologies in the Netherlands as we look to trial British timber as an Accoya product substrate – an advance wood product with architect driven high value end uses.
Our Grown in Britain partners such as the Forestry Commission, the UK Contractors Group and others are working tirelessly to see a Cross Laminated Timber plant built in the UK. Opening the use of British timber for the first time in this timber construction system – a gateway to building schools, hotels and commercial buildings that are low impact and rapidly and reliably delivered.
Knowledge gained through Research and Innovation projects will ensure Grown in Britain reaches deeper and more successfully in its mission. It will enable supply chains to form, build confidence in British wood products and their capability to meet diverse needs and it will be creative – creating new products to offer architects and engineers.
We are confident that this knowledge and capability based approach will inspire and grow market for wood across the country, not just British timber.
One year on and Grown in Britain are involved in game changing research projects and have others in progress. There will be many more.
This will support our further and more diverse use of British wood products for years to come and underpin increasing numbers of rural jobs.
It’s an absolute pleasure to be able to talk about these successes.
Thank you for listening!Ed Suttie
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