Westside Apartments in Ilford prove that is it is possible to deliver a commercial, fully FSC certified project ahead of time and on budget.
The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC), the international, non-governmental organization dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests, awarded the Hollybrook Home's development in Ilford the world's first accreditation to its project based standard.
The certification, under the FSC Project Certification Standard, was significant because it was the first time any commercial construction project had been fully certified as using timber entirely from FSC certified forests and other controlled sources. The standard was created to facilitate the construction industry’s assistance with the protection of endangered forests. This project was overseen throughout by the independent accreditation body BM TRADA who confirmed that the 73-home timber-framed housing complex used 100% FSC certified timber.
Westside Apartments, is a landmark development for both the industry and Hollybrook Homes. The company, based in London, has over the past twenty years, produced many innovative houses and mixed use projects across the city. However, Westside Apartments, which had sold recently to the housing association Tower Homes and comprises mixed-tenure, affordable, apartments, is truly ground breaking. All elements of the timber used in the construction and interior finishings were sourced from FSC Certified suppliers without compromise on quality. Where this could not be achieved, some suppliers were supported and helped to become FSC Certified in order to achieve the overall standard. The resulting interior specifications, in particular, are comparable to those found in a private residential development that would be sold on the speculative market.
Hollybrook Homes’ construction director, Andy Suttle is proud of his company’s achievement: “The certification of Westside Apartments has already generated tremendous interest both nationally and internationally,” he said.
While the certification itself is indeed impressive it is equally impressive that the whole project was completed ahead of schedule and well within budget. It is important to remember that while Westside Apartments features some unique environmental credentials, it was never intended as an eco-build, it was always intended as a profitable development. By beating their projected schedule and staying within budget Hollybrook Homes have clearly proven it possible for commercial projects to use FSC timber without incurring greater expense or lengthier build times, thereby setting a new construction industry standard.
Andy Suttle, explains: “We take our responsibility towards sustainability and environmental good practice very seriously. The opportunity to work closely with FSC, BM TRADA and our timber suppliers to make Westside Apartments a world first was the kind of challenge we relish. We implemented a simple control system which was easy to manage on site and within our normal working practices. Once in place it made the process towards certification straightforward.”
Fraser Steele, the Managing Director, of Perth-based Glenalmond Timber Company is a strong advocate of the FSC, and played a key role in bringing together the various parties for the pilot scheme. Additionally, many of the structural timbers used in the construction were his company’s revolutionary product, UltraJoist, which is a super-dry, dimensionally stable, FSC certified timber. Steele is keen to get the word out that using FSC certified wood is economically viable: “We have been committed to FSC for over five years and the number of projects seeking to use FSC timber is increasing daily. FSC need not be financially prohibitive, we can confirm that the price difference of using FSC certified timber is so marginal that it makes little difference across the whole project.”
Significantly, Greenpeace also backed Hollybrooks’ Westside Apartments. From their perspective anything that encourages the construction industry to utilize environmentally responsible and sustainable working practices is a step in the right direction. Ben Ayliffe, Greenpeace forest campaigner explained: “Westside Apartments is leading the way for the rest of the industry and setting the benchmark, showing that FSC is both affordable and achievable.”
Hollybrook Homes’ tremendous achievement and leadership makes Ayliffe optimistic for the future: “We are delighted the project has been such a success. It shows other major construction projects on the horizon, most notably the Olympics, that getting FSC project certification is the only way to go.”