Circular Economy of Timber Buildings

Generator fund

Awarded: April 2022

Community Leads:

University of Bath: Will Hawkins, Andrew Shea, Daniel Maskell, Pete Walker
University of Bristol: Eleni Toumpanaki (PI)
Cardiff University: Steve Coombs, Tristram Hales
University of Exeter: Anna Harper

Project overview

A cradle-to-cradle and multidisciplinary approach for affordable timber housing in the UK.



The benefits of biogenic carbon storage together with a renewable supply chain mean that greater use of timber, and other plant-based materials, in construction is essential if the UK is to meet its net zero carbon targets by 2050. Our GW4 interdisciplinary research community will investigate the full potential of British-grown timber in the design of affordable and low-energy housing exploring current and future trends (e.g., climate change) in a systems thinking approach bringing together significant expertise in strategic areas such as forestry, architecture, timber engineering, building physics and circular economy.

Project summary

The objectives of the GW4 research community are to investigate:

  1. The full potential of British-grown timber in the design of affordable and low-energy housing.
  2. The thermophysical properties of timber buildings to explore the potential for environmental control.
  3. Barriers and future possibilities for high-grade engineered wood products in the UK focusing on local resources to minimise embodied carbon due to transportation and energy demanding manufacturing processes.
  4. Afforestation strategies, considering increasing demand in timber and climate change effects, and better management of current forestry for commercial timber.
  5. End-of-life scenarios and ways to increase durability performance to increase opportunities for circular solutions.

Community site (GW4 Portal)