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  • Writer's pictureOliver Schofield

We must all work together to find solutions: De-risking timber in construction

Updated: May 15

There is a huge focus on the climate crisis and the financial services sector holds the key, says The Time for Timber campaign. The campaign has been founded to directly target the financial and insurance industries, to counter the misconceptions around timber and deliver a compelling narrative about its place in the sustainable buildings of our future.

Oliver Schofield, Director at Lignum Risk Partners, spoke to Time for Timber about the role the insurance industry can play in enabling a wider use of timber in construction, by de-risking its use.

In the film, Oliver draws on his career as an alternative risk transfer specialist, and his recent work with Lignum to discuss the issue and possible routes to a solution.

Oliver specialises in putting together new capital solutions for uninsurable or hard to insure risk exposures.  With ambitious targets set for the UK to reach carbon net zero by 2050, timber is the primary building material that will help the country reach its targets: it is sustainable, replenishable, and can be positively recycled at the end of use.

“The problem that timber has in the market in the UK is that there is insufficient knowledge when it comes to being able to underwrite and price timber in construction in the most appropriate manner” 

Timber has been used successfully around the world in construction for many decades, and that data exists, within architectural firms, engineering firms, with international insurance  and reinsurance firms and in risk consultancy firms and construction consultancy firms, so that data is there. Trying to ensure that that data is brought into the UK has proved a major stumbling block so far.

However, the data that exists can inform the insurance industry,  closing the disparity between the UK and how other countries insure timber. In order to increase knowledge, we need to get the construction and insurance industries to come together to share their knowledge, data and experiences in the UK for the benefit of being about to push the use of timber for construction.

We all have an ability as businesses and individuals to reduce our carbon footprint and drive towards net zero where we can. Lignum Risk Partners have been trying to start a conversation where people can share ideas in a very open way and within constraints of project confidentiality. Finding a common problem - such as the unavailability of insurance for the use of timber in construction - will help people to come together to garner a solution for the common good. 

"Ultimately, we all must work together to be able to find that solution that de-risks the use of timber in construction, to enable organisations to increase its use. It is not a question of can we do this? It is the fact that we must do this."


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