I had an interesting day at the Timber Expo yesterday at the invitation Andrew Orris of Innovare and of the UKSIPS Association. I presented some material on zero carbon and Fabric energy efficiency to a seminar audience and spent a few hours on the exhibition floor talking to the exhibitors.
There was a wide spread of exhibitors there which is reassuring for the industry. Representatives from Finland, Ghana, America, Norway, Canada, Ireland and Austria demonstrated that this is truly an international industry and we in the UK have a responsibility to ensure that what we buy is the highest quality, is legal and is sustainably sourced. Some interesting material produced by the WWF who had a stand there shows that only about 20% of worldwide timber production is sustainably certified so far, so this effort to achieve sustainable forestry is far from complete.
It is heartening to hear from many SIPS manufacturers that their market share is growing even in these difficult trading conditions, some have doubled their revenues over the last couple of years. This is evidence that clients and contractoirs are starting to understand that well-engineered offsite manufacturing can make their lives easier. This particularly applies to construction sites where there is a need for high levels of air tightness and excellent U-values. A SIPS solution or other offsite product can deliver these to a constructor with the minimum of effort. In some cases the product manufacturer is taking over responsibility for the delivery of the building envelope to enable the contractor to provide the finishing trades only. This can only be to the benefit of the offsite manufacturing industry and contractors and clients.
The news from DCLG that the Building regulations will be based on as-built performance means that site-based traditional methods of construction are less likely to meet stringent performance requirements than a high quality manufactured product, and my personal experience in recent projects bears this out.
I enjoyed my visit to Timber Expo and I look forward to going back next year.