The Queensland Government was urged to ensure sustainable materials are included in the sustainable buildings policy in the Queensland Building Plan.
“All over the world there is increasing recognition that the choice of actual building material can have just as an important impact as energy efficiency measures when it comes to lowering the carbon emissions from buildings," Timber Queensland CEO Mick Stephens said.
“The Queensland Building Plan discussion paper places a strong emphasis on the role of energy efficiency ratings, but says nothing about the carbon impacts of the building materials used.”
“Research has shown that the choice of building material can represent up to 50% of the total greenhouse gas emissions from a new house in Brisbane over a 50-year cycle.”
“There is a significant opportunity to deliver sustainable building outcomes by promoting materials that have low embodied energy.
"Relative to other products such as steel, aluminium and concrete, for example, wood products have very low embodied energy, with very low fossil fuel energy inputs used in their production,” Mr Stephens said.
“Concrete’s embodied energy impacts can be more than six times higher than timber. This is because trees use the sun and photosynthesis to produce timber and remove carbon emissions from the atmosphere in the same process.”
“Switching to a greater use of timber in buildings can generate significant carbon benefits for the State.”
Mr Stephens said that Queensland could save on 600,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year compared to other materials, or 6 million tonnes over a 10-year period if half of all new residential dwellings built were ‘timber maximised’, or considered with more sustainable materials.
Timber Queensland is recommending that the Queensland Building Plan put equal weighting on embodied energy impacts when it comes to promoting more sustainable buildings into the future.
In a submission to the Queensland Government, Timber Australia pointed out that there was a major flaw in the current building rating scheme, which is limited in its approach to the assessment of the greenhouse gas implications from the production of different building products.
As a result they formally recommended that the Queensland Building Plan ensures that building codes and energy rating schemes appropriately recognise the GHG benefits from the use of sustainable building materials (e.g. timber). They also recommended that the plan considers 'passive building' design principles and for the State Government to adopt a Wood Encouragement Policy that aligns with the Queensland Building Plan.