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STRUCTURAL ELEMENTS 57


OFFSITE TIMBER IS CONSTRUCTION’S FUTURE


Stewart Dalgarno of Stewart Milne Timber Systems discusses why modern methods of construction coupled with a build fabric such as timber frame is key to meeting Government housing targets sustainably.


I


ndustry reports are increasingly signalling a move towards modern methods of construction (MMC) in the housebuilding sector. A phrase coined by the UK Government, it acts as a definition and framework to encourage developers to adopt and champion construction practices which will speed up delivery, plug the skills gap, and, crucially, drive for a low carbon sustainable economy. In the housebuilding sector, MMC can


have a transformational impact. With the UK currently experiencing a housing shortage and Government statistics stating a further 120,000 homes are needed annually, modern methods of construction, and in particular, offsite timber building solutions, are vital in addressing the shortfall. But, as demand for increased production


is driven by the industry, it is absolutely crucial that low carbon sustainability remains front-of-mind throughout. This is where the build fabric itself becomes just as important as the construction method. Taking a ‘fabric-first’ approach and


using offsite timber frame construction is a proven means of ensuring that sustainability and low-carbon compliance is part of the very heart of the develop- ment, in the materials used, through the construction stages, and for the remainder of its lifecycle. A natural, renewable, low-carbon


material, timber is readily available, economically viable, versatile, and is a carbon-neutral building material in itself – for every tree used in a timber frame home, more are planted. This is converse to concrete blocks and mortar, which is an energy-intensive and non-renewable method of construction. Offsite timber frame construction


provides the building with a superior thermal envelope, requiring minimal maintenance, and a ‘fit-and-forget’ solution for the lifetime of the building. For a home to be as energy efficient as it can be, it must be as insulated and airtight as possible, and with timber construction retaining and reducing heat demand, the resulting building becomes


extremely fuel efficient. Offsite timber frame construction is a proven mainstream construction solution, with a track record in superior energy efficiency and low embodied carbon. It is reliable, cost-effective, and the dominant method of construction in many countries, in addition to being the first choice for self-builders, where energy efficiency, low-carbon construction, and cost are key specifications. In housebuilding, we’re already seeing a


OFFSITE TIMBER FRAME PROVIDES THE BUILDING WITH A SUPERIOR THERMAL ENVELOPE, REQUIRING MINIMAL MAINTENANCE, AND A ‘FIT AND FORGET’ SOLUTION


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