Blog by TTF CEO David Hopkins, 24 September

Increasing the use of timber in construction and retrofitting offers a solution to the UK’s current energy conundrum.

Image credit :Creative Commons

Image credit :Creative Commons

The UK has been in the grips of an energy crisis this week, with tabloids warning of a throwback to the chaos of the 1970s.

The potential gas shortage has been caused by several issues, with limited gas storage, cold winter, and a global pandemic culminating into a perfect storm for the UK government.

An area that has not received much attention, however, is our high gas usage which has been exacerbated by the lack of efficiency and insulation in many UK buildings.

Given that 80% of the buildings we’ll need by 2050 already exist, the TTF has long advocated for the retrofitting of buildings in the UK to improve heating efficiency and reduce our carbon footprint. This is seen with our endorsement of the Construction Leadership Council’s recent National Retrofit Strategy.

Timber and wood products are a great way to do this due to their thermally efficient and insulating properties. Products such as wood fibre insulation and interior wood cladding are highly effective at retaining heat in winter and would reduce the need for such high gas usage in the UK.

Wood’s unique cellular structure also makes it 10 times more insulating than concrete and 400 times more insulating than steel. By increasing the use of timber in construction, our homes and offices can be more efficient and less energy-intensive. In other words, timber offers a way to insulate Britain – without having to block the M25!

If Boris Johnson is seeking to take a ‘grown-up‘ approach to climate policy, retrofitting the UK’s housing stock should be towards the top of his list.

This week also saw the return of the TDUK Sustainability Series with a successful webinar on ‘Responsible Timber Sourcing’ with Charlie Law. If you missed this webinar, keep an eye on our social media in the coming days – and make sure you sign up for the next event of the series as soon as you can. We hope to see you there.