Construction & Building Design

Timber as a material sits at the heart of the construction industry. It has the lowest embodied CO2 of any commercially available building material, and when used for structures, is increasingly viewed as a simple and straightforward way of achieving high-performance, energy efficient buildings.

 The construction industry is the largest buyer of timber products – this means the sector has a huge influence on the type of timber and timber products in demand. Demanding certified timber products gives a clear market signal that only timber from legal and sustainably managed sources is acceptable. Many of the everyday timber products used in construction come from PEFC certified sources including softwood carcassing timber from Sweden and the UK, softwood plywood from Finland, Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) from Austria, and oak from France.Macallan1 Medium

Market Drivers

Many public and private sector organisations have timber procurement policies that demand this timber is obtained from legal and sustainable sources, including the UK Government’s own timber procurement policy developed by the Central Point of Expertise on Timber (CPET). The specification of PEFC certified timber will help you meet the requirements of these policies.

Using PEFC-certified timber also helps achieve Excellent and Outstanding BREEAM ratings and PEFC-certified timber is a central component of the Ska environmental performance standard. for fit out projects.  

PEFC-certified timber is also accepted by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) system Alternative Compliance Path (ACP) which rewards building projects that use: "wood products from certified sources as defined by ASTM D7612-10".  This includes internationally recognised voluntary forest certification standards such as PEFC's.  The ACP applies to all LEED v4 rating systems including Homes v4 and to all LEED 2009 rating systems.

PEFC Chain of Custody certification also helps demonstrate compliance with legislative requirements such as the EU Timber Regulation (EUTR), the US Lacey Act, and the Australian Illegal Logging Prohibition Regulation.

With timber species offering dimensional stability and durability, PEFC-certified timber has unique sustainability credentials as a renewable building material compared to concrete, steel, brick and block or aluminium. PEFC-certified timber plays an enormous part in many building projects from structural applications such as timber frame, engineered woods including glulam, cross laminated timber (CLT), laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and structural insulated panels (SIPS) to key components such as engineered floor cassettes, attic trusses, along with basic building items such as staircases, windows and doorsets. 

PEFC & Solid Wood Construction

The use of solid wood solutions, engineered timber systems and products such as Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) and Glulam are an increasingly popular way to build strong and stable structures and bring a striking architectural dimension to modern building design. Glulam and CLT is commonly made from PEFC-certified Spruce or Larch and acts as a natural and renewable alternative to steel and concrete. Large vertical or horizontal beams deliver huge interior spans without supporting columns with the scope to showcase breathtaking use of space and introduce huge swathes of natural light.Pasquill1

UK Contractor Requirements

Almost all of the top 20 UK contractors have publically available timber procurement policies that require timber to be obtained from legal and sustainable sources, which include PEFC certified timber. These include Balfour Beatty, Kier, Interserve, Morgan Sindall, Laing O’Rourke, Galliford Try, Skanska UK and Willmott Dixon. Between them these contractors account for over £30 billion of construction turnover.

PEFC provides a range of brochures and guidance for the sector:

Architects, Designers and PEFC Certified Timber
PEFC Certified Timber for the Construction Industry
Flooring and PEFC Certified Timber
Joinery, Fit Out and Certified Timber
Promoting Sustainable Cladding and Decking through Certified Timber 

Construction Case Studies

Project Certification

PEFC Project Chain of Custody certification is a specific form of Chain of Custody certification that allows you to take advantage of PEFC certification for your projects.

Chain of Custody certification is well suited for the ongoing and continuous production of certified products across a wide range of areas including paper, packaging, tissue products or furniture. However, it is not always the most efficient option for short-term projects involving different, uncertified contractors, such as in the construction industry, or the one-off production of a specific product.

PEFC Project Chain of Custody certification recognises that not all parties involved in specific projects are certified, even though forest-based material used for the project is covered by Chain of Custody certification. Usually, the fact that non-certified parties handle certified material would break the chain, and this is where PEFC Project Chain of Custody comes into play.

With PEFC Project Chain of Custody, the specific project is considered to be the ‘product’ to which the Chain of Custody process is applied. In practice, this means that when a 'Project Manager' obtains a Chain of Custody certificate for project certification, contractors working on this project are covered as Project Members and are not required to obtain Chain of Custody certification themselves.
As the Project Manager, they will have to comply with the relevant requirements and establish a suitable management system. This management system will allow for the control of records, training of staff, internal audits, and complaint resolution.

This system will also cover the activities performed by Project Members, to control and record timber arriving and being used on site. As with the regular Chain of Custody, meticulous records must be maintained on all aspects of the forest-based products received on site, and employees involved in the project must be competent and receive sufficient training.

For more information on Project Certification:

PEFC Project Chain of Custody Certification - An Introduction
PEFC Project Chain of Custody Certification - One Project, One Message
PEFC Project Certification Case Studies

Photo credits: Robertson and Pasquill