There is huge opportunity for the forestry sector in the rebuilding of Christchurch, an engineering expert says.
Andy Buchanan, research director of consortium Sustainable Buildings of the Future, told an Institute of Forestry conference in Auckland yesterday that timber was a good product for the rebuilding of the quake-hit city because it was durable, carbon neutral, renewable, and required low energy.
"It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and the new cityscape could be really special," he said.
The consortium is advocating use of structural timber to rebuild residential and commercial areas of the city.
Engineered-timber buildings withstood both earthquakes well, Mr Buchanan said, including the Southern Cross Hospital and Christchurch Women's Hospital.
The consortium, whose main funders include Carter Holt Harvey, Nelson Pine Industries and Wesbeam, has built a prototype wooden building in Christchurch designed to withstand big quakes.
The consortium is developing design guidelines, analysis packages and data sets that give building owners and developers a timber building option which will allow open-plan layout with minimal internal load bearing walls, and be carbon neutral.
Mr Buchanan acknowledged that the wood industry had strong competitors. "We are not going to see the concrete and steel industry fall over, but it would be good to see up to 50 multi-storey wooden buildings built."
Whole city blocks were destroyed in the February quake, providing an opportunity for their replacement with well-designed timber buildings, he said. "This could be a showpiece for the country and for the future of [the] industry."