dRMM awarded Built by Nature Accelerator Fund grant for ‘Measuring mass timber’ research project
Measuring mass timber: a whole life carbon and quality of life assessment methodology for mass timber construction
dRMM is pleased to announce that we have been awarded funding from the network and grant-making accelerator Built by Nature for ‘Measuring Mass Timber’, a research study into the whole life carbon and quality of life impacts of mass timber buildings.
Currently, findings from mass timber analysis come from piecemeal methodologies and assumptions. This makes comparisons between buildings and studies inconsistent and unreliable in yielding whole life carbon (WLC) and post-occupancy evaluations (POE) rigorous or consistent enough to build a blueprint for measuring mass timber at scale Thanks to Built by Nature's commitment we have the opportunity to help define what good looks like for timber buildings, providing a scalable method for understanding the carbon and wellbeing benefits of mass timber, and how they can be maximised across national and international development.
Built by Nature, a network and grant-making organisation with a mission to accelerate the timber building transformation in Europe, has awarded a €131,250 Accelerator Fund grant to dRMM, the Quality of Life Foundation and Edinburgh Napier University to create a replicable methodology to assess whole life carbon and quality of life impacts of timber buildings in the UK.
The assessment methodology will create an open-source set of performance data from five existing timber buildings of varying types in the UK. The data set will comprise whole life carbon assessments, wellbeing indicators such as air quality and overall experiential aspects, and other project data including comparisons with industry benchmarks.
The project aims to help drive the accelerated adoption of timber and mass timber construction among mainstream designers and support policy advocacy. Project summary reports outlining the methodology and the final findings will be disseminated with the aim of fostering broader collaboration within the building sector and advancing the conversation around timber construction in the UK.
dRMM will oversee and guide the study, acting as project lead and unifying the two main research streams – whole-life carbon and post occupancy evaluation – to work seamlessly as an integrated exercise. Edinburgh Napier University will champion the study’s whole-life carbon focus, whilst the Quality of Life Foundation will oversee the data gathering around wellbeing and end-user experience. An Expert Stakeholder Advisory Group will include industry leaders on whole-life carbon, post-occupancy evaluation, design and delivery of mass timber, and policy to ensure the study’s continued alignment to the latest guidance and regulations.
The work will build on the assessment methodologies already available and circulated within the industry, including the RIBA 2030 Climate Challenge targets; the LETI Carbon Alignment ratings; the RICs guidance on whole life carbon; the RIBA Post-Occupancy Evaluation primer; and the TDUK paper on carbon assessment in timber buildings.
“With strong data and robust information, we can continue bolstering the case for mass timber adoption, especially among investors, insurers and policy makers. This is a high-potential project, given its combined climate and social value implications and its future scalability – a strong match with Accelerator Fund criteria. Availability and amplification of this data set and methodologies will be vital and Built by Nature and its network realise the importance of supporting this work.”
Amanda Sturgeon, CEO, Built by Nature
“Building with timber is a key way to decarbonise the construction sector and therefore achieve net zero goals. By asking residents and users of timber buildings how they feel about and experience the place, we will test whether environmentally sustainable building are also more socially sustainable and beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing. The criteria we develop will draw on existing surveys, including our own Resident Review survey, and will provide an engagement and evaluation methodology that will enable the surveying of other buildings for years to come.”
Matthew Morgan, Director, Quality of Life Foundation
“There is a clear tension between the drive for a sustainable future and mainstream construction. No longer can the business model and procurement practices result in lowest cost / lowest quality forms of delivery using carbon intensive materials that don’t take full account of the health and wellbeing of building occupants and the planet. Quality of life and embodied and operational carbon should be central to the decision making process at design phase. This Built by Nature fund will enable the derivation of an alternative approach to defining the true value of specifying mass timber construction challenging the unsustainable construction norm.”
Robert Hairstans, Head of Edinburgh Napier University’s Centre for Offsite Construction and Innovative Structures