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How sustainable is mass timber?

G&T hosted a panel discussion on the role that mass timber can play in contributing towards the global low carbon and sustainability agenda for commercial office developments.

As part of G&T’s ongoing Mass Timber Office series, partners Matt Holman and Oliver Booth were joined by an expert panel to deliberate the sustainability credentials of mass timber. They questioned the role timber may have to play in reaching net zero carbon by 2030 and the impact timber could have on occupants’ health and wellbeing.

The panel included Managing Director of Targeting Zero - Simon Sturgis, G&T’s Environmental and Sustainability director - Richard Francis, Anna Denell - Sustainability Director for Vasakronan, Lorna Walker - Co-Founder of Modomo and UKGBC Trustee, as well as Alan Fogarty - Partner at Cundall and Dr Ed Suttie - Director of Strategic Advisory at BRE.

The discussion began with a short introduction addressing any concerns from the audience following the BBC documentary on climate change, clarifying the difference between the deforestation of the Amazon rainforest and the sustainable forestry taking place across Europe. The audience were shown a short video from the Danish Wood Initiative (trae.dk) explaining the lifecycle of timber in more detail and the opportunity we have when using it sustainably.

During the forum the audience were asked to vote whether they thought the health benefits of mass timber would accelerate the transition to net zero. The response from the audience was an overwhelming ‘Yes’, with 85% of respondents believing that they would accelerate the transition.

2010 Graph Only Sustainability Web

The group also discussed current certifications and sustainability goals, with Dr Ed Suttie outlining how mass timber could be relevant in relation to the United Nations Sustainability Development Goals and going on to suggest how this might impact current building certifications such as BREEAM and WELL.

The panel noted that it is not just the material itself that you need to consider when choosing sustainable development but also end of life use and the impact the supply chain can have on any scheme. Anna Denell was clear that long-term holistic thinking is needed and that considering the impact your project will have from inception through to key elements such as transportation and the proximity of your material source to your site location are all important parts of the process.

The participants agreed that there are great sustainable benefits to using mass timber when implemented correctly. With estimates anticipating the use of mass timber will double or triple over the next 20 years - there is a growing body of evidence that wood will play a greater part in our future.


G&T launched the Mass Timber Office forum to bring together experts from across the industry to discuss and debate the barriers of using mass timber in office construction. Hosted by partners Matt Holman and Oliver Booth, these forums focus on hot topics such as Insurance, Fire and Sustainability, to help share knowledge and information that can be referred to when considering mass timber for commercial office projects.

For more information about the Mass Timber Office Forum or for access to the full report from the Sustainability panel please contact the team at masstimber@gardiner.com.