Author: David Rowlinson
As of 1st May 2016 developers wanting to build timber buildings to the height of 8 stories or 25 metres will be able to do so under a new version of the National Construction Code (NCC).
Currently developers who plan to build higher than three storeys in timber needed to use a complex and expensive ‘alternative solutions’ model to get approval.
Using timber instead of conventional materials can reduce the construction costs for suburban apartments by up to 25 per cent, and still meet or exceed the fire safety and thermal performance of traditional building methods.
The Managing Director of Forest and Wood Products Australia, Ric Sinclair, said both local and overseas fire and thermal engineers, fire authorities and specialists had contributed to the changes.
“Developers will now be able to look at new options for affordable mid-rise domestic buildings which are more environmentally friendly, quicker to build and cost less than conventional materials.
“Internationally, timber apartments are very well received and trends indicate that their share of the market is growing as they find popularity with an increasing number of investors and residents.
“We believe the environmental advantages and livability of these apartments will be attractive to a wide range of buyers in the suburbs. For neighbours, the faster build time with timber construction and less associated noise is a plus,” he said.
The changes apply to both modern engineered timbers made from sustainable plantation timber, such as that used in the Forte building in Melbourne’s Docklands, until recently the worlds tallest residential timber building, and also to traditional ‘stick’ timber as used in The Green Apartment complex in Parkville.
Planet Ark CEO, Paul Klymenko, said timber buildings typically had a lower carbon footprint than similar structures built with conventional materials.
“Planet Ark is focused on helping people take positive environmental actions. This change to the NCC will allow developers to construct more sustainable buildings. This will, in turn, make it easier for buyers to choose better apartments. Choosing apartments in timber mid-rise buildings has the potential to reduce the environmental footprint of the built environment without any increase in costs. It’s the perfect outcome. Using timber building materials not only creates fewer carbon emissions than alternatives, but also wood sequesters then stores carbon for the life of the building,” he said.
The new deemed-to-satisfy provisions in the NCC allow the use of timber construction systems in Class 2 (apartments), Class 3 (hotels) and Class 5 (offices) buildings up to 25 metres in height, known as ‘mid-rise’ construction.The Green Apartment complex in Parkville