For our office buildings at Brent Cross Town, we’re looking at designs that are constructed either entirely out of timber or from a combination of timber and low-carbon concrete. Runacres says, “To lease buildings you know are going to make the occupants better and healthier – well, what a fantastic place to be as a developer.” You just have to be careful not to go Scandi-mad and make everything look like a giant sauna, he jokes.
As we build this North London neighbourhood, we’re undertaking a lifecycle analysis for each and every plot that will tell us its carbon footprint. Where we can, we’ll use timber and other low-carbon materials. Where we can’t, we’ll offset the emissions through certified schemes. Want to check out the numbers on this? You’ll be able to, as we will be signing the World Green Building Council’s net zero carbon buildings commitment, which means publishing our carbon footprint.
Environmental groups have pointed out that wood is no silver bullet for climate-friendly construction. For a start, it’s essential that forests are sustainably managed. And it would be simplistic to say that using timber always removes carbon from the atmosphere, given that shipping and processing the material still expends energy. As we pledge to build a zero net carbon town here at Brent Cross Town, we’re all too aware that this is a complex and challenging journey. But wood has incredible potential to change the way we build and live for the better. The natural world supplies every fundamental need, meaning the answers to some of humanity’s most serious problems really do grow on trees.