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Sustainability and the use of renewable materials will be the key focus of a meeting of European experts in structural engineering and timber construction in Kilkenny this week. The meeting, being hosted by the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI), will see experts developing the second generation of European structural design codes for buildings and civil engineering works, known as the Eurocodes.

The codes are being revised to take account of the advances made in timber construction and will give structural engineers across Europe guidance on the use of new timber design approaches using elements such as cross laminated timber or timber concrete composites.

These revisions will help increase the market share of timber in the construction industry across Europe. The new design codes will also benefit the forestry sector in Ireland, at a time when there has been a substantial rise in the level of timber harvested here.

The Irish forestry sector is estimated to be worth around 2.3 billion euro and currently employs more than 12 thousand people. In 2017, 3.5 million cubic metres of roundwood was available for processing in the Republic of Ireland, it is estimated that by 2028, this figure will double to 7 million cubic metres.

With a growing focus on sustainability and the impact of climate change, the use of renewable materials like timber looks set to grow across the construction industry worldwide. As well as the economic benefits, the use of wood in construction also benefits the environment by reducing the carbon footprint associated with construction. When compared with conventional building materials such as steel and concrete, wood is the only structural material used in construction that can be harvested from a renewable resource.

NSAI Standards Officer Ken Murphy says the work being undertaken this week is designed to make the codes easier to use.

"The NSAI is proud to host the 36th meeting of the Eurocode 5 – Design of timber structures committee. The meeting in Kilkenny will play an integral part in progressing the work done to date on the revision of the timber design codes through exemplary levels of international consensus and cooperation which form the basic principles behind International standardisation work."

The meeting opens on the 9th March at the Newpark Hotel, and will be attended by industry experts, structural designers, engineers, academics and others. The Irish National mirror committee for the Design of timber structures, NSAI/TC 15/SC 5, is fully engaged with the European committee for standardisation technical committee - CEN/TC 250/SC 5, in the revision of Eurocode 5.  

Malcolm Jacob, convenor of the Irish committee believes

“the technical knowledge needed by designers to build practically all of the housing units so desperately needed in this country using predominantly timber or timber products is available now in 2020. Many of Europe’s leading experts will be in Kilkenny this week continuing the challenging task of delivering the final new Eurocode 5 for publication in 2025 (the knowledge is already there for timber, but the verification process to get it into approved final documents takes time).

Inspired by Greta Thunberg, the expression of concern and anger by our children at the lack of progress in combating climate change is growing. We need to use current knowledge to build in the most sustainable way as soon as possible by increasing to the maximum the use of timber in construction – if we don’t, today’s 13-year olds, voters in 2025, won’t be kind to us."



NSAI's PR Account Manager, Deirdre Farrelly
t: 086 869 0774