Changes to the National Construction Code (NCC) will create expanded opportunities for designers, developers and builders to develop innovative mid-rise timber buildings. However, this positive development again reinforces the need for focus on future timber supply and getting more trees planted to ensure demand can be met in coming decades.
The range of building classes in which fire protected timber construction systems can be used has been expanded to include; schools, retail premises, hospitals and aged-care facilities through changes to the 2019 NCC Volume One. These classes are in addition to the previously approved; multi-residential, hospitality accommodation and office buildings. These changes follow landmark reforms in 2016 to allow the construction of fire protected timber buildings, up to 25 metres in height, or around eight storeys.
“These are fantastic developments promoted by Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and will only help to encourage greater use of innovative timber product solutions in building design and construction across Australia. But, with the scope for timber construction now expanding, it’s another reminder that more production trees need to be planted to meet future demand,” Australian Forest Products Association (AFPA) Chief Executive Officer Ross Hampton said.
“We urgently need another 400,000 hectares of production trees in the ground to prevent major supply shortfalls in the future, and AFPA will drive that message home during this year’s Federal Election campaign. This is something all sides of politics need to come to the party on.
“The popularity of timber and particularly cross laminated timber (CLT) as a construction material for larger scale buildings is increasing. XLam’s CLT plant in Wodonga is just one of those facilities meeting the new demand. Just this month, a new 450 bed student accommodation building is opening in Canberra at the Australian National University (ANU), made with CLT panels. To date, 13 CLT buildings over three storeys have been completed in Australia, with another six in the works. There is significant momentum.
“The NCC changes will drive increased demand for timber products, particularly CLT. The Federal Government needs to recognise these signs and implement the policy changes needed to trigger plantings to increase supply,” Mr Hampton concluded.