Snowy Spruce and Pine Forest, looking up

The Real (Green) Deal

Dutch lead fresh sustainability push

The door is closing quickly against timber suppliers who don’t have certifiable proof that their products are from sustainably managed forests.

And even if they can reference a national certification scheme, it better be endorsed by PEFC™ or FSC® or it probably won’t have the necessary ‘cred’. That’s the clear picture emerging from big timber importing markets in Europe.

The fact that major tropical hardwood lumber suppliers to the EU such as Malaysia, Brazil and Ghana have seen their sales plunge to unprecedented lows over the past 18 months has as much to do with new sustainability and legality regulations as it has the depressed European economy.

Even a traditionally ‘safe’ source of hardwood such as the US may be in the firing line. Although that country’s vast natural forests of oak, walnut, maple, cherry and the like are undeniably managed on a sustainable basis, very few are third-party certified.

All of which makes the Dutch Government’s recently announced ‘Green Deal’ campaign of special significance. The Netherlands is a major EU entry point for hardwoods and the Green Deal signed in June with 26 of the country’s industry associations – plus support from trade unions, construction, furniture and retail companies – seems to shut the door on non-certified timber imports.

The Green Deal documents how signatories will promote timber from sustainably managed forests.

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Spruce log end

Grade Right Review on Kingfisher Spruce™

Paul Carpenter, a New Zealand timber industry expert has worked closely with our team to certify the new Kingfisher Spruce™ range to NZ structural standards. Grade Right's industry expertise and knowledge of timber species and properties was a valuable asset in the development of this exciting new range. 

"In regards the imported European spruce (Picea spp.) beams imported into NZ, I can confirm that I witnessed the testing of 30 randomly selected pieces of each of four sizes, namely140, 190, 240 and 290x90mm beams on the 18th of August 2014 at the ATS Timber site in Levin. Structurally, they exceeded the equivalent properties of SG8, comfortably met the equivalent requirements of SG10 and in a number of cases were equivalent to SG12. The timber was white to pale yellow in colour and very close grained, often having 10-20+ growth rings per inch with very small knots for the most part. All but one of the pieces easily met the requirements of No 1 Framing as per NZS3631:1988 “New Zealand timber grading rules” and therefore would meet the visual grade requirements of Visually Stress Graded 8 (SG8) and Visually Stress Graded 10 (SG10) for the domestic NZ market. Some pieces had a small percentage of sapwood but for the most part the majority were mainly or totally heartwood. The moisture content of most pieces was between 10 and 15% with most pieces being very straight and only a couple having noticeable twist but well within the requirements for twist contained in NZS3631..." Paul Carpenter, Managing Director, Grade Right (NZ) Ltd

Testing the four largest sizes in the new range that are the most demanding proved without a doubt the superior structural properties of this product over against other alternatives in the market. Other key features you will notice Paul Carpenter mentioned was the timber density (close grained), stability, heartwood content, straightness and superior visual grade.   

New Zealand Growers want PEFC™ Certification

The NZ Forest Certification Association (NZFCA) has just been accepted as the country’s PEFC™ member.

“It makes sense for New Zealand forest growers to be in a position to supply PEFC™ certified forest products to [international] markets,” says the association’s chair Dr Andrew McEwen.

Many countries buying New Zealand forest products – or competing with its exports – are already PEFC™ members, including China, Japan, Indonesia, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Russia, and the US.

NZFCA hopes to have a PEFC™ endorsed certification system based on the New Zealand Standard for Sustainable Forest Management (NZS AS 4708:2014) in place later this year.

The NZ Standard is based on the Australian Forestry Standard (AS 4708:2013), which is the basis for the PEFC™ endorsed Australian Forest Certification system.

Endorsement by PEFC™ of an NZ forest management system will allow forest owners to obtain certification for their management practices, and allow processors and others along the supply chain to source PEFC™-certified material from local, sustainably managed sources.

Most New Zealand commercial forestry operations are already certified to Forest Stewardship Council criteria.

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Join the Green Building Revolution


Building in a sustainable and responsible way is fast growing in its popularity globally and New Zealand is a growing part of this green building revolution. We have detailed in this post some of the key institutes and organisations both in New Zealand and globally, along with sustainable timber certification standards that are readily available to give you and insight into this market and how we are a key supplier to this revolution. ATS Timber is certified to supply FSC® and PEFC™ certified products for use in green building projects.

Amazing facts:

Worldwide, buildings consume nearly 40% of the worlds energy (3 billion tonnes of raw material annually)
We spend an average of 90% of our time in buildings-and the air quality inside is two to five times worse than outside air.
The construction industry is responsible for as much as 40% of man-made carbon emissions
Timber is the only mainstream building material that is naturally renewable and carbon negative
By 2015, an estimated 40-48% of new non-residential construction by value will be green, equating to a $120-145 billion opportunity
Timber is the greenest building material known to man
The top 3 industry sectors with the highest penetration of green building are; education, healthcare and office
Timber is a renewable resource with an eco-efficient life-cycle; timber products can be reused, repaired, recycled and, at the end of their life, their energy can be recovered.

New Zealand Green Building Council

“Our vision is that New Zealanders live, work and play in healthy, efficient and productive buildings in a sustainable built environment” NZGBC

The New Zealand Green Building Council (NZGBC) is a not-for-profit, industry organisation dedicated to accelerating the development and adoption of market-based green building practices. We do this through:

Promoting the benefits of sustainable buildings by creating a common language and demonstrating the value.
Assisting the property and construction sector to acquire the skills and knowledge to be able to deliver a sustainable built environment.
Motivating and rewarding the sustainable development and operation of buildings across New Zealand.

The NZGBC was established in July 2005 and in 2006 became a member of the World Green Building Council (WGBC). The WGBC is an international not-for-profit organisation that aims to move the global property industry and built environment towards sustainability, with Green Building Councils being established in various countries around the world.

NZGBC is also a member of the Construction Industry Council. The Council exists to:

promote the interests of the broader construction industry to central government
create conditions in which the sector can prosper
work together for the general good.

The NZGBC has four main rating tools:

Greenstar – for commercial buildings
Homestar – for residential buildings
BASE – for Canterbury
NABERSNZ – energy performance for office buildings

Living Building Challenge

The Living Building Challenge™ is a building certification program, advocacy tool and philosophy that defines the most advanced measure of sustainability in the built environment possible today and acts to rapidly diminish the gap between current limits and the end-game positive solutions we seek.

The Challenge is comprised of seven performance categories called Petals: Place, Water, Energy, Health & Happiness, Materials, Equity and Beauty. Petals are subdivided into a total of twenty Imperatives, each of which focuses on a specific sphere of influence. This compilation of Imperatives can be applied to almost every conceivable building project, of any scale and any location—be it a new building or an existing structure. Download the Living Building Challenge 3.0 Standard document below.

The Living Building Challenge™ is the built environment’s most rigorous performance standard. It calls for the creation of building projects at all scales that operate as cleanly, beautifully and efficiently as nature’s architecture. To be certified under the Challenge, projects must meet a series of ambitious performance requirements over a minimum of 12 months of continuous occupancy.

Living Building Challenge Mission

To encourage the creation of Living Buildings, Landscapes and Communities in countries around the world while inspiring, educating and motivating a global audience about the need for fundamental and transformative change.

For timber, all wood must be certified to Forest Stewardship Council (FSC®)24 100% labeling standards, from salvaged sources, or from the intentional harvest of timber onsite for the purpose of clearing the area for construction or restoring/maintaining the continued ecological function of the onsite bionetwork.


LEED stands for green building leadership. LEED is transforming the way we think about how buildings and communities are designed, constructed, maintained and operated across the globe.

LEED certified buildings save money and resources and have a positive impact on the health of occupants, while promoting renewable, clean energy.

LEED, or Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design, is a green building certification program that recognizes best-in-class building strategies and practices. To receive LEED certification, building projects satisfy prerequisites and earn points to achieve different levels of certification. Prerequisites and credits differ for each rating system, and teams choose the best fit for their project.

LEED certified buildings are commanding higher rental rates and great occupancy than the non-green buildings. This trend cannot help but impact the Investment community. The supply while gradually increasing is not keeping up with the demand for green buildings. LEED New Construction buildings are awarded points for sustainability for things like energy-efficient lighting, low-flow plumbing fixtures and collection of water to name a few.

Recycled construction materials and energy efficient appliances also impact the point rating system. In the political climate of today’s world, as the earth’s natural resources are being depleted at an alarming rate the construction industry is being compelled to look at alternatives to traditional construction materials and styles.



BREEAM is the world’s foremost environmental assessment method and rating system for buildings, with 250,000 buildings with certified BREEAM assessment ratings and over a million registered for assessment since it was first launched in 1990.

BREEAM sets the standard for best practice in sustainable building design, construction and operation and has become one of the most comprehensive and widely recognised measures of a building’s environmental performance. It encourages designers, clients and others to think about low carbon and low impact design, minimising the energy demands created by a building before considering energy efficiency and low carbon technologies.

A BREEAM assessment uses recognised measures of performance, which are set against established benchmarks, to evaluate a building’s specification, design, construction and use. The measures used represent a broad range of categories and criteria from energy to ecology. They include aspects related to energy and water use, the internal environment (health and well-being), pollution, transport, materials, waste, ecology and management processes.

BREEAM is the Building Research Establishment Environmental Assessment Method for buildings and large scale developments. It sets the standard for best practice in sustainable design and has become the de facto measure used to describe environmental performance of buildings and communities.

BREEAM can be used to assess any type of building anywhere in the world. Standard schemes have been developed for many building types e.g. offices, retail developments, industrial buildings etc. BREEAM UK also has standard schemes that have been tailored with input from key stakeholders/clients in the UK such as healthcare, prisons and other non-standard building types.  ‘Bespoke’ criteria can be used to assess building types that do not fall into the scope of the standard schemes available.