Woodknowledge Wales are working on a dedicated timber windows supply chain programme to be delivered together with the industry in 2020-21. Let us know if you would like to be involved! See below for the summary of our December workshop.

On a cold winter’s day, a group of 16 joinery manufacturers, housing associations and suppliers came together in mid Wales to discuss how best to harness the potential for timber windows in Social Housing in Wales. Focussing on viable supply chain solutions for Welsh timber windows participants worked on a selection of ideas, based on results from previous workshops. Strong support was given to options around standardised window designs for new buildings and retrofit. Results from the workshop are still being analysed to inform further steps to advance the most promising solutions with the industry in 2020.

Delegates at wood windows workshop discussing a standard specification for social housing

Housing associations are indicating that they would like to switch from UPVC to wooden windows. Over the next few years, 20,000 new homes will need to be built in Wales. This is a vast potential for the timber windows market. Now it’s time for Welsh windows manufacturers to develop solutions that can respond to this anticipated demand.

Making the case for sustainable timber

The case for wooden windows in social housing is compelling. Improved performance, reduced whole life cost, improved sustainability and higher quality are arguments for increased demand for timber windows by social housing providers. Two main barriers hinder the wider specification of wood windows and hence the development of a Welsh supply chain. Clients fear increased maintenance and hence cost while windows suppliers need to demonstrate compliance with performance standards like Secured by Design. On a practical level, the aim of the workshop was to explore how the industry could jointly overcome these barriers and to develop a pathway for Welsh window manufacturers to supply the social housing sector in the future. On a political level, the workshop was organised to inform recommendations to Welsh Government where interventions are required.

Feedback generated during workshop on manufacturing wood windows for the social housing sector.

Innovation through collaboration

There is an appetite in the industry to develop and advance joint action that will pave the way for timber windows becoming a mainstream solution in the social housing sector in Wales.

Collaboration was clearly identified as the key to success, both across the supply chain as well as between direct competitors. Specification and certification, including clarity on design quality requirements are among the most listed take-away topics from the workshop.

The zero carbon homes agenda and its support by Welsh Government is seen as an opportunity, along with a new client focus on whole-life costing.

Agreed specification and supply chain solutions

From four potential paths to eliminate barriers to market two stand out as the most promising in the views of workshop participants:

  • Developing and manufacturing to an agreed specification which satisfies the needs of a number of different clients, complies with existing standards and meets further requirements, e.g. Secured by Design, to reduce the cost of testing and compliance audits.
  • Developing a supply to market solution from Welsh timber grading to window installation.

The great engagement of industry experts from across joinery manufacturing and social housing is also reflected in the pledges by participants to take action beyond the workshop. There was general support for more lobbying for Welsh graded timber, a Welsh Secured by Design and for making Welsh timber in new housing a first choice. All delegates submitted pledges for personal action; within their network; as a direct result from new contacts at the workshop or with their clients and suppliers.

Taking the agenda forward

Woodknowledge Wales are working on a dedicated timber windows supply chain programme to be delivered together with the industry in 2020-21. Let us know if you would like to be involved!