17 November 2016
A National Centre for Timber Durability and Design Life has been launched at the University of the Sunshine Coast thanks to a new partnership involving the forestry industry, academia and government.
The centre is a strategic initiative of industry group Forest & Wood Products Australia (FWPA) and is aimed at ensuring Australian design guides and standards remain world class in light of climate change, new engineered timbers and changes in building design.
Partners include USC, the University of Queensland (UQ) and the Queensland Department of Agriculture and Fisheries (DAF). The State and Federal Governments, along with the FWPA and the universities, will contribute funding for the centre.
Federal Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources Senator Anne Ruston officially launched the centre at USC on Wednesday 16 November.
Senator Ruston said innovation and research were essential to the future of the Australian timber industry.
“It is even more essential now with timber’s resurgence as a renewable, carbon-positive and increasingly versatile construction material,” she said. “The Australian Government is very pleased to support the launch of the Centre through Forest and Wood Products Australia.”
FWPA managing director Ric Sinclair said the centre would create a world-leading predictive model to enable architects and building specifiers to more easily choose the right timber for a task.
“It will be an automated evidence-based tool to accurately predict the structural performance and design life of timber depending where and how it is being used,” he said. “It’s an exciting prospect and it’s one that will be a world first.”
Mr Sinclair said Queensland was the ideal location for the centre, with access to people who have relevant expertise and a willingness to innovate and collaborate, and exposure to diverse and often challenging climactic conditions perfect for putting timber to the test.
USC Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Research and Innovation) Professor Roland De Marco said the establishment of this research partnership was an exciting development.
He said by connecting national and international leaders in forestry research through USC, UQ and Queensland DAF, the centre would represent the pressing research needs of industry in the field of timber durability and design life.
“Through the appointment of a world-class, industry-engaged professor – together with the appointment of a significant number of supporting research associates and students – this centre will establish a critical mass of world-class expertise,” he said.
“This, in turn, will enable the Australian industry to position itself at the leading edge of international research and development in this critical field of endeavour.”
— Terry Walsh