A quality assurance programme for structural timber called the Timber Quality Scheme (TQS) is focusing on the material’s two main properties – durability, and physical characteristics of strength and stiffness.
The new scheme is being established by the New Zealand Timber Industry Federation (NZTIF), with the Wood Processors and Manufacturers’ Association, in conjunction with the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment.
NZTIF director, Kevin Hing says timber produced under the new programme will be branded with a unique symbol so builders and other timber users will be able to instantly recognise it has been produced under strict QA guidelines.
“The Timber Quality Scheme is based on Standard Operating Procedures setting out quality assurance protocols. It is a good thing for consumers who can be reassured the timber used in their home or building project meet the highest standards.”
All participating producers will be subject to regular audits of their products by independent third party auditors to ensure their adherence to required standards for timber grade (strength and stiffness) and treatment (durability).
Kevin says in the last decade or so there has been an emphasis within the timber industry on producing better quality timber in order to meet a more demanding customer base.
“Examples of this include kiln-dried timber with its greater stability; machine verified timber, which has more reliable timber properties; and light processes for treating timber, resulting in a drier product. The new programme will ensure these materials are produced and verified to comply with New Zealand Building Code requirements.”
He says the Timber Quality Scheme will be accredited by JAS-ANZ to ensure it is a truly independent and reputable programme for timber quality.
Two of NZTIF’s quality assurance programmes, WOODmark and Verified Timber are aligned with the Timber Quality Scheme.
Timber has been used in New Zealand since pre-European settlement to create sustainable, comfortable living environments, with the material still as popular as ever for its lightness, ease of use and familiarity, says Kevin.
“Timber has many benefits in addition to its natural qualities such as strength, durability, warmth and beauty. It comes from a plentiful renewable source, is incredibly cost effective, and is the kindest construction material to the environment with excellent green and sustainability credentials.”
He says other factors, such as thermal and electrical insulation and reduced condensation issues make timber a superior product; with innovative new engineered wood products like LVL (laminated veneer lumber); glue-laminated timber; and cross-laminated timber, ensuring an exciting future for the industry.
“These products have been developed with superior strength and seismic resistance, attributes that are particularly well suited to the Christchurch rebuild. Studies by the University of Canterbury have demonstrated that buildings with timber framing and timber piled foundations came through the Canterbury earthquakes very well, ahead of other construction materials and methods.”
The new generation timber products are also allowing timber structures to be built much larger and higher. In Melbourne a 12-storey apartment building has been constructed, and there are plans in London to build a 50-storey timber building. There are many other examples underway or being planned across the globe”
NZTIF has supported the New Zealand timber industry for 100 years, with its role evolving over time according to changes to the regulatory environment and market conditions.
“Immediately after the Second World War the Federation helped the industry deal with timber shortages and had a role in pricing and distribution. Later it coordinated the supply of railway sleepers for NZ Rail, and in the 1970s and 80s when Radiata Pine became a more prevalent species, the Federation had a major role in developing export markets and promoting New Zealand timber overseas.”
More than 50 percent of New Zealand’s sawn timber production is now exported, with most ending up in the three main markets of Australia, China and the United States, with smaller amounts going to Asia, the Middle East, Europe and the Pacific.
“We have a reputation as one of the best timber producers in the world and are fortunate to have a plentiful, sustainable supply of high quality timber that will more than meet the future needs of our New Zealand and international markets.”
NZTIF was a signatory to the New Zealand Forest Accord which was signed 25 years ago last month.