Explore Offsite at Ecobuild hailed a great success by the STA

The recent Timber Trends report commissioned by the Structural Timber Association (STA), predicted another year of double digit growth for the industry. If Explore Offsite at Ecobuild is anything to go by – interest in offsite timber systems is certainly on the increase.

Andrew Carpenter, Chief Executive of the STA has just spent three days at the event and reported:

“This was the first year of Explore Offsite at Ecobuild, which showcased offsite innovations supported by a comprehensive range of Offsite Technology Masterclasses and Ask the Expert sessions. Although statistics have yet to be compiled, the offsite structural timber zone was one of the busiest areas of the exhibition and on day two, it was standing room only at the Structural Timber Technology Masterclasses. In addition, the STA used this event to launch some major initiatives and host two business luncheons, with presentations from high profile speakers.”

The Structural Timber Association formally joined forces at the event with other leading trade bodies, the Timber Trade Federation and the British Wood Working Federation – to collaborate under the banner of the Confederation of Timber Industries. This ground-breaking alliance shares an objective to raise the profile and inherent benefits of timber to Government and the wider construction industry and used Ecobuild as a platform to showcase the natural advantages of working with wood.

On day one, the STA launched the ‘Robustness of CLT Structures’ which included presentations followed by a Q&A session with the authors of the report. Endorsed by Premier Guarantee and LABC Warranty – the Robustness of CLT Structures is a guide to the key principles of robust design, connection detailing and installation of cross laminated timber buildings. This significant document has been developed in accordance with major warranty providers TRADA and BRE, and contains a clear method of designing to best practice details to ensure robust design and safe construction of CLT projects.

The Association’s Ecobuild Luncheons took place at the event which included presentations from key notes speakers, John Slaughter, External Director of the Home Builders Federation; RIBA incoming president, Ben Derbyshire; Nico Hendriks, Chairman of BDA; Paul Burrows, Chartered Building Surveyor & Project Manager of RICS; Paul Oakley, Technical Manager of Kiwa BDA and Peter Caplehorn, Deputy Chief Executive and Policy Director of the Construction Products Association, who leads the UK and EU policy and regulatory framework.

The presentations and subsequent discussions focused on meeting the shortfall in housing stock and alleviating the skills crisis. The STA made a strong case, that with Government commitment and assistance, the offsite timber sector could triple capacity to support the objective of delivering one million new home by 2020.

The second day featured the Structural Timber and Hybrid Timber Masterclasses chaired by Andrew Carpenter and presenters included STA Directors, Nick Milestone, Managing Director of B & K Structures and Nic Clark, Managing Director of KLH.

The packed Masterclasses offered the assembled construction professionals the opportunity to learn about the latest offsite timber technology and how using engineered timber as a core structural component, can provide a rapid solution to the housing crisis in delivering quality, high performance buildings which reduce ongoing energy costs. The seminars also offered insight into how the offsite structural timber sector is responding to unprecedented demand by investing in lean manufacturing systems.

Day two of Ecobuild witnessed a further strategic alliance, when Chairman of the Structural Timber Association, Alex Goodfellow and Jonathan Fellingham, Chairman of the Trust Rafter Association, signed a memorandum of understanding between both Associations.

The objective of this memorandum of understanding is to establish the basis upon which a sustainable, long term co-operative relationship can be developed between the organisations in order to provide enhanced service to their mutual customers within the commercial and new housing sectors.

Both organisations require manufacturing members to have third-party supervised Quality Assurance and Professional Indemnity insurance so helping to ensure quality and peace of mind for clients. Other common objectives include the development of technical support for member’s products, improving construction site health and safety culture, managing specification through the supply chain and training.

In conclusion Andrew Carpenter said:

“This event has made it clear that there is an emerging market for the future – it’s offsite construction. The good news is that our members already have the products, solutions and capacity to meet the demand from major builders, local authorities, SMEs and the increasing interest in self build. We have the resources, the skills, the raw materials and the environmental credentials to take to market – Explore Offsite at Ecobuild has given the STA and our member an excellent opportunity demonstrate how we can be an integral part of this step change.”