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Sat July 02 2022

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Australia targets timber construction

4 Feb The Australian government has launched a finance programme worth AU$300m (£158m) to encourage the use of mass timber construction.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation (CEFC), which invests on behalf of the government, has created its Timber Building Program on the back of new research. It said that its new research confirms a critical need to transform the approach to construction if the country is to achieve an economy-wide transition to net-zero emissions.

CEFC said that the use of timber has the potential to achieve a substantial cut in construction-related emissions, providing a greener alternative to conventional construction materials. 

CEFC CEO Ian Learmonth said: “Timber has been used in construction for generations. Innovations in engineered wood products have created new opportunities for mass timber construction to be used in larger projects, creating the potential for immediate and long-term environmental benefits. 

“Our new Timber Building Program will help finance this transition by encouraging owners, developers and builders to use lower-carbon engineered wood products in their projects. The CEFC has a strong track record in financing new market developments, from large-scale solar to cleantech start-ups. We are excited to bring this expertise to sustainable construction.”  

Through the Timber Building Program, the CEFC has allocated up to AU$300m in debt finance for eligible projects Australia-wide – including commercial offices, retail, industrial, healthcare and education. Finance may also be available for multi-residential apartments, seniors living and student accommodation projects.

Eligible projects will be considered on a case-by-case basis and may include those that:

  • use low-carbon engineered wood products in large-scale construction;
  • have secured appropriate materials source, accreditation and embodied carbon outcomes;
  • require AU$20m to AU$75m in CEFC debt finance;
  • are commercially sound;
  • comply with the CEFC’s investment policies, guidelines and risk approach.

In its Australian buildings and infrastructure: Opportunities for cutting embodied carbon report, CEFC found that mass timber construction can reduce embodied carbon by up to 75% compared to the use of conventional steel and concrete

CEFC director of property investment Ryan Rathborne said: “The time is right for the development of more timber buildings across the property sector. By locking in mass timber construction in new projects, we can also help develop local skills and experience, supply chains and delivery capabilities, all of which can catalyse more timber-based building activity into the future.

“We are already seeing early adopters incorporating these new materials in their construction. Our goal is to accelerate this trend, working with the property sector to create a cleaner, more sustainable built environment. 

“Our property-related investment commitments have included demonstration projects with the ability to deliver best-in-class performance around energy efficiency, along with the effective integration of renewable energy into new and existing buildings. Cutting emissions from embodied carbon is the next frontier for the construction sector, with enormous potential from development through to occupation.” 

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