Head and shoulders photo of David Hedges

David Hedges. Home-Grown Homes Project Manager

A Study for Improving the Timber Construction Supply Chain in Wales

The Project is now 16 months old. The latest round of meetings held in Builth Wells reviewed progress in the key work packages, a number of which are being led by our partners; Cardiff Met University, Coed Cymru and BM TRADA. Highlights include the first building performance testing on a live project, our first Low Carbon Assessment, a visit to Pontrilas sawmill to see Welsh grown sawlogs (Spruce Cymru) for construction projects in Wales and the start of work to create a brief for the development of a timber building solution that moves house-building towards net zero whole life carbon. And we’ve got a new infographic to explain what the project is all about:

Newly arrived logs begin their timber journey at Pontrilas Sawmill

Home-Grown Timber

Pontrilas Sawmill, family owned for over 70 years, is one of the most advanced in the UK. The Sawmill hosted a recent meeting to discuss use of home-grown timber on the Powys CC Bowling Green project in Newtown. The assembled visitors including WKW members Powys CC and Lowfield Timber Frames (who arranged the visit) were given a tour by sawmill staff, including chairman Jeremy Hickman and shown the investment the company has made in machinery to process, grade and kiln dry trees from a wide area, including Wales. We were shown the approach to segregation and how spruce grown in Wales can be processed and shipped out to customers with full traceability. Pontrilas is already supplying construction projects and deals with 25 articulated lorry loads of sawn timber every day including timber suitable for structural frames and cladding and is keen to respond to requests for home-grown timber.

Whole Life Carbon

Eilidh Forster has carried out a Lifecycle Carbon Assessment to compare the costs of the Ty Solar 2 bed home being developed by Western Power with a masonry alternative to show how much carbon could be saved over its lifetime. Initial results claim that ‘over its life span, it is expected the Ty Solar home will emit 78,106 tCO2e less than average for standard buildings providing the same functionality’ – though this is based on a home built in Australia (where the software has been developed) and so we need to identify a UK figure. This is the first LCA we’ve completed on the project and it’s a learning experience for Eilidh. She is presenting on the CONFOR stand at the Royal Welsh Show, following the success of her presentation at WoodBUILD 2019.

Better Performing Homes

Diana Waldron, Cardiff Met Research Associate, has begun to make contact with project clients to discuss the building performance assessment support which the Project offers. With the help of PhD student Francesco Zaccaro she has begun to carry out the first building performance assessment tests, with a thermography test on Wales & West HAs Chiltern Close project in Cardiff with contractor Hale Construction. The learning from the experience has been captured and will help in the design of future project tests.

Better Timber Housing Solutions

James Moxey is leading the work package aimed at developing a demonstrator home and education facility. The brief changed from the one originally conceived and is now focussing on the development of a timber housing solution which could be adopted for production at scale using Carbon Caption, Use and Storage principles. A team of professionals has been recruited and the first workshop was held in July to kick-off the design process. The team is: Rob Thomas (architect and Director with R+M Studio), Nick Grant (energy consultant and principal with Elemental Solutions), Alan Clarke (freelance energy consultant and building services engineer) and Beth Williams (structural engineer with the Build Collective).

Caught on Camera

A few of the projects we’re working with have had their latest progress captured digitally. Images from the Llanbedr project near Ruthin being developed by ClwydAlyn with contractor Williams Homes were featured on the WKW website in June. And the Croft Court development in Welshpool by Mid Wales Housing and contractor Mid Wales Properties has had its second drone flyover showing how much progress is being made on a challenging site.

Croft Court development in Welshpool by Mid Wales Housing and contractor Mid Wales Properties.


Project updates by David Hedges 18 July 2019.