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New programme to boost mid-rise timber construction

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A new programme launched today aims to boost mid-rise building construction using New Zealand-engineered and panelised framing timber and deliver a range of regional, social, environmental and other benefits.

Red Stag Investments Ltd, a company with its roots in forestry, wood processing and property development, has partnered with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to deliver Mid-rise Wood Construction, a 4-year, $5 million Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme.

"Combining cross-laminated timber (CLT), glulam and panelised framing timber is a cost-effective, fast, resilient, and sustainable system for mid-rise construction," says Red Stag Group chief executive officer Marty Verry. "Our PGP programme aims to encourage widespread adoption of precision-engineered timber in mid-rise building construction in New Zealand."

"Aside from its natural beauty, engineered timber provides a very strong, low carbon and comparably low-cost alternative to steel and concrete. It’s easier to transport, relatively light and has outstanding earthquake and fire resilience. The use of prefabrication can speed up construction by as much as 30% and reduce cost to help meet New Zealand’s acute need for more accommodation.

"Globally, there has been rapid growth in the use of engineered timbers such as cross-laminated timber and glulam for construction. However, New Zealand is behind other countries such as Australia, Austria, Canada, England, and the USA in adopting engineered and panelised timber for construction.

"This is due to factors such as limited production capacity and little knowledge of engineered wood use and prefabrication in mid-rise building construction.

"Through our PGP programme, we want to create this wider understanding to double demand for engineered and panelised wood products in New Zealand buildings, and develop domestic manufacturing capacity."

The programme will assemble a collective of excellence – a pool of New Zealand professionals experienced in mid-rise wood building design and construction – to help share and grow knowledge and expertise within the broader industry. Red Stag will design and build 2 mid-rise wooden buildings to showcase engineered timber construction, to act as reference sites and inform case studies. The first will be the Clearwater Quays' 5-level apartment development at Clearwater Resort Christchurch, to be constructed in 2019.

Construction costs associated with the programme will be covered by Red Stag. MPI investment provided through the PGP will contribute to other aspects of the programme, such as design, collating and sharing information, and establishing the centre of excellence.

Steve Penno, director investment programmes at MPI, says benefits from the Mid-rise Wood Construction PGP programme will be felt beyond the co-investors.

"Engineered timber provides the opportunity for New Zealand to add significant value to New Zealand grown timber," says Mr Penno. "It’s also a natural and sustainable resource.

"The Mid-rise Wood Construction PGP programme aims to substantially increase demand for engineered wood products in buildings, which will have associated flow-on benefits across the entire supply chain.

"This will create new regional jobs and renewed investment in forestry, processing, manufacturing, construction, and prefabrication. Achieving the programme's goals will significantly advance New Zealand’s engineered timber industry."

The Mid-rise Wood Construction PGP programme was launched in Wellington today with Minister of Agriculture, Hon Damien O'Connor, and Minister of Forestry and Minister for Regional Economic Development, Hon Shane Jones.