Author: Chris Philpot
Wellington Shire Council in eastern Victoria has become the second local government area in Australia to adopt a wood encouragement policy. The policy encourages the use of wood as the preferred material for construction and fit out of council buildings where appropriate.
The focus of the policy is to ensure wood is considered for the initial stages of projects. Among the goals of the policy are to stimulate sustainable economic development within the Gippsland timber and wood products industry, encourage value adding products and promote the industry as a renewable resource.
Latrobe City Council adopted a wood encouragement policy in December last year. In May, the Municipal Association of Victoria state council meeting endorsed Latrobe's policy and adopted it as an MAV policy. It was also supported at the recent National General Assembly of Local Government.
Wellington Shire Council and Latrobe City Council join others around the world to adopt similar policies including Rotorua District Council in New Zealand, Hackney Council in London, British Columbia in Canada, Finland, France and the Netherlands.
A Wood Encouragement Policy requires responsibly sourced wood to be considered, where feasible, as the primary construction material in all new-build and refurbishment projects. This is usually limited to public sector buildings but could be applied across residential and commercial.
As an example, the Library at the Dock in Melbourne is Australia's first six star Green Star council owned building constructed from modern engineered mass timber. It stores 500 tonnes of carbon in its cross laminated timber structure.
Wood is the only renewable building material we have available which also stores carbon. In fact 50% of the dry weight of wood is carbon and its use substitutes for more carbon intensive materials like steel and concrete. Wood has proven health and wellbeing benefits when used in workplaces, aged care facilities and educational settings. It is also cost effective and quick to construct.