How to design timber buildings that will be insured

Building Arts Programme students Jim Nightingale and Florence Hamer creating the Shepherd Hut timber frame

Source: Prince’s Foundation

An explainer for architects on the insurance industry perspective of mass timber

Timber: Manage the risks to mitigate climate change

The issue of the UK’s unregulated embodied carbon emissions was brought to the House of Commons last week, as the MP for North Norfolk, Duncan Baker, introduced a private member’s bill seeking the introduction of mandatory whole life carbon reporting with limits placed on embodied carbon. “Now we are in the middle of a climate emergency,” Duncan proclaimed, “it’s time for construction to evolve again.”

For many, including the government, this means increasing the use of timber in construction. However, as widely reported, it’s not quite as simple as substituting one material for another. Many developers, architects and engineers are trying to do just this through the use of engineered “mass timber” products, only to face the same challenge, similarly experienced right across the industry: insurance for timber buildings is hard to come by and can be prohibitively expensive when it is available.

Why is this? Well, now we have an insurance industry white paper setting out exactly why.

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