Know your timber

Timber is the ultimate renewable resource but do you know where your supplies come from? HOUSING looks at the certifications that guarantee sustainably-sourced wood products from forest to retail.

Photos courtesy SFM Environmental Solutions

Today, building green is no longer reserved for the eco-warriors but woven into mainstream consciousness for the increasing number of home buyers concerned about sustainability, energy savings and healthy living. 

HIA GreenSmart is a way of building that is respectful of the environment and its inhabitants, and the homes produced under its guiding principles demonstrate improved resource efficiency. This includes the use of sustainable timber. Knowing the origins of your timber products is the first step to ensuring you make informed choices about its sustainability to cater to the more eco-aware consumer. 

Two of the most commonly recognised labels for sustainably-sourced timber include FSC (Forest Stewardship Council), and PEFC (the Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification). Both international schemes promote sustainable forest management by setting rigorous standards through independent third-party certification so specifiers can identify and purchase wood from well-managed forests. These certifications track wood from the forest to the shelf giving purchasers a strong guarantee that the wood product came from responsible sources. 

 

Director of Hydrowood and SFM Environmental Solutions Andrew Morgan knows both schemes well. SFM is a national forest management company that has been in the industry for decades and holds dual certification in Responsible Wood (PEFC) and FSC.

‘While these two accreditations hold slight differences, auditors from both Responsible Wood and FSC are looking at a range of similar aspects to prove a forest is sustainably managed. In fact, the two certifications almost mirror one another,’ he says. ‘Regardless of whether you go with FSC or Responsible Wood, there has been a huge amount of effort by the forest manager and the processors to obtain the certification.

‘Architects, builders, specifiers and consumers can, with confidence, use timbers certified under either scheme knowing that they’re certified under a global standard and locally being managed under a very rigorous forest practices system.’

Demand for responsible forest products in international trade can provide incentives for sustainable forest management

Leon Quinn, national sales manager at the Tilling Group says the business has been trading and manufacturing timber products for 57 years, and as a long-term participant in the timber industry are heavily invested in reputable timber certification schemes.

‘Our supplying mills have either FSC or PEFC certification. We also have Chain of Custody (CoC) certification as a manufacturer and distributor,’ he says.

CoC includes every link in the supply chain, from harvesting, transportation, primary and secondary processing to manufacturing, re-manufacturing, distribution and sales. Tilling is third-party audited under both of the PEFC and FSC schemes to demonstrate its systems effectively trace what is and isn’t certified.

‘We’re held up to very high levels of scrutiny,’ Leon adds. ‘We must have, and demonstrate, robust tracking systems of what goes in and what goes out. It also means that there’s no way we can declare something is certified if it’s not, or declare it’s one kind of certification when it’s another.’

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Certified by both the FSC and Responsible Wood, HQPlantations is a commercial forest grower, managing a 340,000-hectare pine plantation estate from the Queensland border to Kuranda north of Cairns. This Beerburrum planta-tion is located near the iconic Glasshouse Mountains.

Photo courtesy HGPlantations

Tilling’s range of certified timbers available to industry for constructing sustainable homes include engineered wood products such as Smart LVL15 and SmartJoist.

‘These are the two product groups that make up a majority of what we do,’ Leon adds. ‘Most builders know Tilling as SmartFrame but all of our Western Red Cedar as well as our Tasmanian Oak architectural products are certified.

‘For our suppliers the expectation is that wherever possible we prefer certified environmentally-responsible timber.’

Timber supplier EGGER is another company that stands for responsibly-sourced raw materials, in both its procurement and processing practices. With a focus on the conservation of wood as a resource, it ensures all of its 19 production facilities are fed with timber from sustainable forestry plantations. Incorporating best practice in manufacturing, EGGER also generates energy in its biomass power plants, using up-to-date sustainable processing technology and environmentally-friendly logistics systems.

Knowing the origins of your timber products is the first step to ensuring you make informed choices about its sustainability

‘Due to the increasing importance of product origin, certifications are gaining in importance,’ says Brett Wilkinson, EGGER sales representative. ‘It is therefore advisable for builders to rely on products that are manufactured in a production facility that is either FSC- or PEFC-certified.’ 

Two wood products that tick the certified boxes are the EGGER OS’Brace and EGGER OS’Floor. The OS’Brace is a structural panel designed and manufactured specifically for the Australian building industry, and has been used in Australia for more than 15 years. 

‘With the use of EGGER OS’Brace, the building industry not only makes a valuable contribution to the protection of endangered rainforests, but you also have a product that meets the performance requirements of the National Construction Code (NCC),’ Brett says. ‘Not all oriented strand board is the same however the OS’Brace and OS’Floor are highly suited for sustainable construction. Both products come from sustainably-managed forests and comply with Australian requirements regarding formaldehdye emission levels in compressed wood, thus ensuring a healthy indoor climate.’ 

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Photo courtesy EGGER

For Leon, sustainability should be everyone’s concern. ‘All good businesses today need to be sustainable,’ he says. ‘We don’t want to sell a product that is bad for the environment. From a financial and environmental point of view it doesn’t make sense. 

‘Forests everywhere need to be responsible and the ones that aren’t we don’t want to deal with.’

The WWF believes that demand for responsible forest products in international trade can provide enormous incentives for sustainable forest management. So, whenever building professionals and consumers buy timber from retailers or timber merchants with certified labels (which should include a manufacturer’s unique CoC code and can be verified on the FSC and PEFC databases), it puts demand on respon-sibly-sourced timber and supports the ongoing sustainability of the forestry and timber industries worldwide. 

This article was compiled with contributions from The Tilling Group and EGGER. For more information on certification visit www.au.fsc.org and www.pefc.org or for product information visit www.tilling.com.au and www.egger.com. EGGER says the OS’Brace and OS’Floor come with the required documents and certificates for Australia. A full product service is additionally offered via EGGER’s distribution partners along with company representation in Australia, while brochures on installation and technical data can also be found online.

 
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Editor’s note: HOUSING is proudly printed on PEFC-certified paper. 

Photo courtesy SFM Environmental Solutions

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