NZ’s low carbon construction policy proves winner for mass timber sector

NZ’s low carbon construction policy proves winner for mass timber sector

By David Rowlinson  September 24th, 2020

Image: Glulam structure at Wellington International Airport


The New Zealand timber industry has welcomed the government’s low-carbon construction procurement policy announced last week. The policy will simultaneously deliver strong economic, social, and environmental outcomes and is a step in New Zealand’s path to carbon zero by 2050.

“Fortunately, there is now a good range of price-competitive ‘mass timber’ suppliers in New Zealand, with a good base of architects, engineers and construction companies experienced with wood design and construction,” says Red Stag Group CEO Marty Verry.

The announcement follows similar policies in countries such as France, Japan, Canada, Australia, and the USA.

“It’s great that New Zealand is going to start leading the way in clean green carbon zero construction,” Mr. Verry said. “And it’s great for our country’s brand image, and something all exporters and tourism can benefit from.”

Mr. Verry, also spokesperson for the wood processing sector on the policy, points to Green Building Council research that 20 per cent of New Zealand’s greenhouse gas emissions are caused by the built environment, primarily because of concrete and steel use.

“Use of wood displaces the use of these high CO2 emitting products on current projects, but also encourages the planting of more trees to sequester CO2 in the decades to come,” he said.

“Wood is being used for practically all building types around the world now, and thanks to new ‘mass timber’ products such as CLT, they can be cost effective and faster to build.

“New Zealand also has many specialist wood engineers and construction firms. This procurement policy will introduce more of them to clean green construction systems, and those experts will then be able to offer those skills to the private sector.”

He said a policy based on what’s best for ‘NZ Inc’ will push government building developers and design teams to stop resorting to the traditional systems they were familiar with, and design for what’s best for New Zealand holistically.

Article first appeared in Timber and Forestry E-News

Learn more about wood encouragement policies in Australia


David Rowlinson

David hails from Lancashire, England and has lived in Australia since 1994. He studied Architecture at Sheffield University and also has an MBA from Macquarie University and a Master of Marketing from UNSW. Prior to joining Planet Ark in 2016 David was Marketing Manager then CEO of a major Sydney-based manufacturer of modular carpets used in all commercial building applications. His proudest achievement was the development of an industry-leading environmental sustainability agenda, including the unique Earthplus product reuse program.

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