A research project led by London Met’s George Fereday which offers sustainable, low-cost solutions to UK construction, will be showcased at the major climate conference COP26.
Date: 8 October 2021
The 'HomeGrownHouse' project developed by London Met's Associate Professor George Fereday is set to feature at COP26 - a major climate change conference run by the United Nations. The conference will bring together global leaders to advance carbon emissions reduction targets, with the aim of finding ways to reach net zero by the middle of the century.
Fereday's research stands to transform the way we think about timber building and sourcing of timber in the UK, by developing concepts for sustainable, low-cost, prefabricated housing made from locally grown hardwood , such as coppiced Sweet Chestnut.
The HomeGrownHouse project will be highlighted at the Green Zone at COP26 , which will see youth groups, civil society, academia, artists, business from across the UK and all over the world hosting events, exhibitions, cultural performances, workshops and talks.
The project was recently featured on the front cover of the Timber Trade Journal where Fereday argues that the UK is missing opportunities to use local timber in its new buildings and falling behind on sustainability as a result. He points to Sussex and Kent which have among the highest numbers of new start building projects in the country, alongside the most regional abundance of coppiced sweet chestnut; but says this locally available timber is rarely used in buildings.
"The UK imports 80% of its wood products and rates of woodland management in Britain are low, with only 59% of UK woodlands under active management," he writes.
"Many formerly coppiced woodlands have fallen out of regular harvest cycles, are more prone to diseases and pests, and contain a mixture of small, medium and large diameter trees with few markets."
The HGH Project addresses these issues by designing building components specifically with a range of small, medium and large diameter roundwood in mind.
He continues, "We designed this 'kit of parts' for disassembly and re-use and all cut components were sawn efficiently to reduce waste during milling. This low-waste, high yield philosophy means the components are cost-competitive with traditional imported alternatives."
The kit-of-parts was exhibited in June this year on the Birling Estate in north Kent, situated within the coppice woodland from where the material was harvested.
But sustainability isn't the only benefit of using locally grown chestnut in British construction, Fereday writes; "Coppice forestry also creates skilled rural jobs. By designing in a way that links forestry practices, ecology and construction from the outset, the HGH project has forged new connections that contribute to a holistic, sustainable and local timber supply chain."
Photo credit: Stephen Blunt, London Met