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FR&T approves $10 million research programme

FR&T Approves $10 million research programme

A $10 million research programme has been approved by the Foundation for Research Science and Technology, based on pioneering timber engineering research at the University of Canterbury.

The new funding will establish the Structural Timber Innovation Company Ltd (STIC), co-funded by government and industry, with initial funding for five years.

The company will develop large-span timber buildings for a wide range of uses in New Zealand, Australia and other export markets.

Andy Buchanan, Professor of Timber Design at Canterbury University, says primary applications will include commercial, industrial and residential buildings. Flexible design will allow for occupancies to change several times during the life of the buildings.

He says compared with traditional buildings, these new buildings will be more attractive and more desirable places to live and work, also being of lower weight with easier transport of components and less expensive foundations.

Professor Buchanan says that the sustainability benefits of timber buildings will include lower CO2 emissions due to the low embodied energy of timber materials, lower life-time heating and cooling costs, and carbon sequestration in the building components, all of which will help to meet the Government's carbon neutral objectives.

The new pre-stressed timber buildings will also be resistant to major earthquakes and safe in extreme weather, fires or other emergencies, he says. These large span and multi-storey timber buildings will be pre-manufactured from high quality engineered timber including glulam and LVL (laminated veneer lumber). Initial developments will be large span low-rise buildings, moving on to open plan buildings up to 10 storeys or more.

The Government will provide funding for five years, matching the $5 million industry investment provided by Carter Holt Harvey, Nelson Pine Industries, Wesbeam, Forest and Wood Products Australia, the Pine Manufacturers Association and Building Research.

This research will create a step change in New Zealand's wood manufacturing and construction industries, greatly reducing the environmental impacts of buildings.

In addition to the work at Canterbury University, the new company will have major research contracts with the University of Auckland, University of Technology (Sydney), universities in Italy and elsewhere, and with BRANZ Ltd in Wellington.


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