Timber homes could help alleviate housing crisis, say foresters

Rapidly-built timber homes could aid Government in solving the State’s housing crisis, foresters say.

Recent reports show the social housing crisis is growing, with about 60,000 families awaiting homes while surging property prices threaten to force many more out of the market.

Mark McCauley, director of Forest Industries Ireland (FII), says increasing the use of timber in home building would speed up social housing construction and ease help ease the crisis.

Timber-frame houses take three to five months to build, against eight to 12 months for conventional homes, the organisation, part of employers’ lobby Ibec, says.

However, just a quarter of new homes built in the Republic are timber-framed, while the comparable figure in Scotland is 70 per cent.

At the same time, each timber-framed house saves 12 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions, which FII maintains would add up to a huge greenhouse gas reduction over a 30-year housing plan.

Mr McCauley points out that the Republic has “hugely valuable” forests while it grows commercial timber used for building faster than other European countries.

“This a major natural resource and we should utilise it to build the homes we need and lock away millions of tonnes of carbon at the same time,” he argues.

“Government should be promoting and enabling timber construction.”

FII wants the Republic to update regulations to allow for apartments built from engineered timber products, which are now common in other European jurisdictions.

Buildings account for 38 per cent of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions when the energy used in their construction is taken into account.

Mr McCauley argues that cutting buildings’ carbon output is key to tackling climate change.

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