Threat to timber in standards change, says BWF

15 November 2013

The government’s planned simplification of building regulations and standards risks watering down the emphasis on using sustainable materials such as timber, the British Woodworking Federation (BWF) is warning.

In a letter to building regulations minister Stephen Williams, the BWF warns that the government’s plan to reduce the number of housing standards councils can apply from over 100 to 10 and eventually to replace them with nationally described standards risks overlooking the enormous contribution to reducing carbon emissions timber construction can make.

The letter forms part of a joint response to the building standards review with the Timber Trade Federation.

BWF chief executive Ian McIlwee said the issue was particularly sensitive, given that the Code for Sustainable Homes is “likely to be shelved in its current form”.

He said: “Embodied carbon emissions can amount to more than half of the total carbon emissions over the life of a building. BWF believes that a specific materials working group should have been established and that the government should establish such a group to advise on such issues and consider the establishment of a nationally described standard for embodied impact. Market forces alone are insufficient to realise the government’s low carbon targets.”

A Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) spokesman said: "We are considering the responses to the housing standards review consultation, which closed last month, and we will set out our decision on what happens next in due course.”