Red Stag Wood Solutions has announced that it will build a large-scale Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) plant at its 95ha wood processing site in Rotorua.
The operator of the Southern Hemisphere’s largest sawmill sees the investment as a natural next step to add value to its timber, and as a key enabler of the government’s social, environmental and economic objectives from its building procurement strategy.
“Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a product on a rapid growth curve globally,” Red Stag Group chief executive Marty Verry says.
“It is one of the ‘massive timber’ group of products, along with others such as glulam, that is opening up the mid- and high-rise building market to wood.”
“In New Zealand there is strong demand, and praise needs to be given to XLAM in Nelson for the leadership it has shown in developing the CLT market alone to date.
“We see the need now for a scale North Island producer so that, between us, we take the product mainstream.”
“Our vision is that wood will be the norm in mid-rise buildings by 2030, and I can see the KiwiBuild target being achievable in the early 2020s as a result,” Mr Verry says.
The CLT will be produced by the group’s Red Stag Wood Solutions division run by managing director Jason Cordes.
Mr Cordes says the plant is expected to generate 40 regional jobs, mostly in Rotorua. “But more important, it has the potential to save thousands of dollars on the cost of housing and mid-rise buildings by reducing material cost, on-site labour costs and construction time,” Mr Cordes says.
The product also performs well in earthquakes, where its light weight and ability to flex means it performs better than heavy rigid buildings made from concrete and steel.
“The three-storey Kaikoura municipal building was left unscathed after the massive earthquake, and immediately became the Civil Defence headquarters,” Mr Cordes says.
“And because of CLT’s thickness and the protective char layer in a fire, it has a very predictable and high fire rating.”
But Mr Cordes points to some of the softer benefits as reasons why developers and investors are turning to wood.
“For Housing New Zealand, a significant consideration is the calming nature of clients living with wood, whilst for others it is the fact that using CO2-absorbing wood contributes to the fight against climate change, rather than adding to the problem caused by steel and cement manufacture.”
“We are also going to be able to help hit Kiwibuild, state housing and private sector targets with this plant.
“We will launch in 2019, and expect to be producing in excess of 50,000cu m of CLT within two years — the equivalent of around 2000 housing units.”
A modular approach to the factory means more capacity can be brought on as required.
A proviso of the announcement is that Standards New Zealand adopts a Standard requiring full penetration of treatment chemical in CLT, to provide assurance against decay.
Typically, this is the commonly-used boron, which has been proven for decades to be safe and effective.