17, Jan 2019 -

Rotorua pegged for $20m cross-laminated timber factory

Rotorua pegged for $20m cross-laminated timber factory


A $20 million cross-laminated timber plant is set to be built in Rotorua by the country's biggest sawmill.

Red Stag Wood Solutions will build the plant at its 95 hectare wood processing site and said it saw the investment as a logical next step in the trend towards faster construction and tall timber buildings.

"Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a product on a rapid growth curve globally", the mill's chief executive, Marty Verry, said. 

"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."

New Zealand property developer Sir Robert Jones has announced plans to build a 12-storey office building in Wellington, while Japanese conglomerate Sumitomo plans to build an 80-storey building in Tokyo.

Verry said CLT would be one of the products which would help the Government meet its housing goals. He praised Nelson-based firm XLAM for largely pioneering the CLT market here.

"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."

The CLT division's managing director Jason Cordes said the plant would create 40 new jobs, mostly in Rotorua.

"But more importantly, 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." 

CLT's lightweight and flexible qualities means it performs well in earthquakes, and it has been a material of choice for a number of Christchurch rebuild projects. 

Highly fire-retardant, it is well regarded by environmentalists as a C02-absorbing alternative to steel and concrete.

But one of its key advantages is that it can cut construction time by as much as 30 per cent if used alongside prefabricated building methods.

Cordes noted the CLT-built Kaikoura municipal building was left unscathed after the massive earthquake "and immediately became the Civil Defence headquarters".

He said the new plant would be launched next year and expected to produce more than 50,000 cubic metres of CLT within two years.

"That is the equivalent of around 2,000 housing units."

However, the plans hinge on Standards New Zealand adopting a standard requiring cross-laminated timber to be fully penetrated by a chemical such as boron to reduce the chance of rotting. 

CLT is essentially sticks of wood glued together, and Verry has been vocal about the need for treatments to penetrate the product completely. 

Untreated timber has been banned for framing since 2003 after the rules were relaxed in 1995, prior to the leaky building crisis.

​According to previous comments from Verry, "envelope treatment" or partial treatment of the timber has been an option before a timber standards review committee attached to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

MBIE has previously declined to comment on what the committee is considering.

Source: Stuff

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