A network of pioneering developers, designers, investors and insurers have launched a multi-million euro fund to scale up timber construction on the eve of COP26.

Engineers Arup, modular housebuilder BoKlok, Lendlease and sustainable architects Bennetts Associates are among the backers of Built by Nature, set up by the Laudes Foundation.

Built by Nature chair Donald Brenninkmeijer said: “With building space expected to double globally before 2050, we must reimagine the way we build, from a carbon-intensive industry to one that helps remove more carbon from the atmosphere than it adds.

“Accelerating the timber building transformation, in a way that works in unison with nature, is critical to address the built environment’s carbon footprint.”

The fund offers grants of between €50,000 to €250,000 for pioneering projects addressing barriers to building with timber. These could include innovations in timber buildings, feasibility tests for large-city scale projects new business models and data collection schemes.

UK building pilots engineered timber

A multi-storey pre-warrantied residential building showcasing engineered timber by UK architects Waugh Thistleton in collaboration with University College London fire engineers is one of the first projects to win funding.

Waugh Thistleton Architects founder and director Andrew Waugh said:Construction needs radical change. The way we build now is directly responsible for millions of tons of carbon emissions.

“We need to re-focus our efforts onto using bio-based building materials – ones that we don’t scrape from the surface of our planet.”

The United Nations estimates the built environment accounts for 38 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions. Built by Nature’s aim is to drive forward timber building to reduce embodied carbon and safely storing it in future buildings as well as forest stewardship and regeneration.

Laudes Foundation built environment head James Drinkwater said: “The timber building transformation is already happening, but too slowly if we are going to stay within our carbon budget. Of all the natural climate solutions already available, forests have the greatest potential.”

Brokers Hank Zarihs Associates said development finance lenders were keen to offer construction loans to builders embracing new sustainable technology.

Built by Nature is calling for construction climate leaders and innovators across European markets to join its network. Part of its strategy is to embrace hybrid solutions working proactively with similar initiatives on low-carbon steel and cement.

Current partners include the newly-launched Bauhaus de Erde, the Centre for Natural Material Innovation at Cambridge University, the Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, Cities4Forests and Climate-KIC.

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