University to spend £3m on new timber technology research hub

UNIVERSITY chiefs are to spend £3 million on a new timber technology research hub in the Capital.

Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 1:31 pm
Updated Tuesday, 6th December 2016, 3:03 pm
The new research hub will use the green gold of Scotlands forests to support the construction of sustainable housing. Picture: contributed

Experts at the Edinburgh Napier facility will work on highly energy-efficient walls and new coating techniques aimed at extending the life of timber.

The hub, at the 7Hills Business Park in Sighthill, is expected to open in spring next year.

Professor Sean Smith, director of sustainable construction at Edinburgh Napier, said the £1 billion forestry sector employing more than 16,000 people, and its growing role in construction, was the “green gold” of the Scottish economy.

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He said: “Seventy-five per cent of new housing in Scotland is timber based and that is expected to grow to more than eighty-five per cent in the coming years.

“Timber construction across the rest of the UK is also forecast to increase significantly, and the new research facility will support the ambitions of government, local authorities, housing associations and industry to develop new housing innovations.”

News of the research hub follows Chancellor Philip Hammond’s commitment to the multi-million pound future City Deal programme which will see thousands of new homes built in the Lothians.

The Capital’s population is forecast to grow by more than 28 per cent in the next two decades.

Professor Smith said: “The new facility also strongly aligns with the City of Edinburgh and south-east Scotland’s future growth plans for low energy housing delivering low carbon solutions. This will significantly support future housing designs and reduce domestic energy bills.”

The new research facility will also link with the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre based at the Hamilton International Park in High Blantyre.

Professor Smith added: “Our facility will complement, rather than duplicate, the facilities at Hamilton, thus providing an integrated R&D platform for industry and researchers.

“We have a strong record of our students being involved with new industry innovations and the facility will also enhance their experiential learning.”

Professor Andrea Nolan, principal and vice-chancellor of Edinburgh Napier, said: “This new research facility demonstrates our commitment to the forestry and construction sectors and will build on our excellent industry linkages and international research partnerships.”

James Appleton-Metcalfe, managing director of 
Leeds-based Citivale, an asset management firm which part-owns the business park, said: “The decision by Edinburgh Napier University to locate its pioneering £3m low carbon construction research and development facility here is a resounding endorsement of 7Hills and confirms the demand in the Edinburgh city region for top-quality business space.”