Early adopters gaining commercial timber advantages

Published: Thu 7 Sep 2017 03:04 PM
Early adopters gaining commercial timber advantages
Now that two key players in the commercial building industry have caught on to the advantages of timber and off-site construction, the secret is out – the early adopters are already gaining the advantages inherent in building commercially with engineered wood systems like cross-laminated timber (CLT) and laminated veneer lumber (LVL). An upcoming national wood building conference is bringing those market leaders to Rotorua to share their expertise.
Fletcher Building boasted last week of building a house using pre-fabricated components in a matter of hours rather than the usual months spent onsite. Well-known property investor Bob Jones is leading the way in Wellington by taking the initiative to commission Dunning Thornton Consultants to design his striking new tall office tower in wood.
Looking across to Australia, we are well behind their lead in taking timber taller in commercial building. In multi-residential mid-rise construction, Strongbuild is a leader in streamlining the building process, with offsite construction a key to their award winning buildings. International developers, Lendlease, are finding strong demand for their office towers in wood including several projects in Sydney and their most recent tall timber tower sold in Brisbane.
Large numbers of engineers and technical consultants in Australia are working regularly with wood, particularly multi-residential mid-rise, and this will grow in New Zealand with the densification of place likes Auckland. Companies that can deliver prefabricated systems for framed construction are well positioned to succeed as densification gathers momentum.
Wood as a building material is ideally suited to offsite construction and building information modeling. The engineering has been done – it is over to the market to gain information through design guides and technical support to grow the business. In Canada, tall timber buildings are ‘business-as-usual’. For the Rotorua conference, Innovatek is bringing over Karla Fraser, project manager for the Brock Commons building in Vancouver – now the tallest timber building in the world.
The upcoming national building industry conference, entitled “Changing Perceptions of Engineered Timber in Construction” will be focused on “The Advantages of Timber in Mid-Rise Construction.” It's the second annual conference for Innovatek in commercial wood building and will be held in Rotorua on 28 September. The diverse programme attracts building owners, developers, architects, engineers, specifiers and key engineered wood suppliers.
FIEA conference organiser John Stulen says, “Australian companies like Lendlease and Strongbuild have moved quickly and decisively capturing commercial advantages of wood building. They’re well ahead of their New Zealand counterparts in project completion timeframes, pricing and client satisfaction. So, Jones’ decision to go big with a wood structured tall office building sets a new benchmark for others to follow.”
The Forest Industry Engineering Association (FIEA) conference is set to be part of a wood technology week of events coming to the city in September, including the FIEA WoodTECH 2017 two-day conference and trade expo. Rotorua Lakes Council are event partners promoting their successful “Wood-First” policy. For more details see:

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