Sustainable construction and Assessment Of the full Lifecycle impact of Irish harvested Wood products (SAOLWood Project)

 Start Date: 01/04/2022                                                            End Date: 31/03/2026

 Funder:                                      Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

 Principal Investigator:    Dr Patrick McGetrick, Prof. Cathal O'Donoghue

 Project partners:                University of Limerick (UL), Technological University Dublin (TU Dublin)

Researchers:                          Dr. Conan O'Ceallaigh (Research Fellow), Ge Song (PhD Researcher)

Website:                                   SAOLWood Project

Objective: There exists a significant challenge in the sustainable development of residential and commercial infrastructure to achieve the housing demands in Ireland: materials with high embodied carbon footprints, such as steel, concrete and brick, remain the primary structural material choices. The impact of Ireland’s future construction projects on already-high national greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions can be minimised through the expansion of low-carbon and sustainable timber solutions, supporting growth of the circular bio-economy and creation of sustainable employment. Indeed, increased wood demand for construction dovetails with the need to incentivise more forest planting in Ireland in order to offset high GHG emissions from the land-use sector. Value-chain solutions are urgently required to overcome the twin challenges of the construction industry scepticism of wood products and low rates of afforestation. This project will create a new national database of lifecycle data for harvested wood products, addressing a current lack of data necessary for a comprehensive life cycle assessment (LCA) of Irish timber use in the built environment. Rigorous quantification of the environmental, economic and social impacts of locally sourced Irish timber products will support informed decisions by building designers, contractors, planners, developers and policy-makers. For the first time, construction demand and land-use for forestry will be linked in the LCA of harvested wood products in order to optimise returns to forest owners and identify novel cascading uses of wood products in construction.

Opportunities for Green Public Procurement to improve implementation of circular practice (Opps4GPP Project)

 Start Date: 01/03/2022                                                            End Date: 28/02/2025

 Funder:                                     EPA/Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

 Principal Investigator:    Dr Patrick McGetrick

 Project partners:                Galway City Council, Galway County Council, CARO, Department of Education

Researchers:                          (PhD Researcher), (MSc Researcher)

Website:                                   Opps4GPP Project

Objective: The primary objectives of the Opps4GPP project are to identify and examine opportunities for green public procurement (GPP) in Ireland, quantify the associated costs and benefits, and disseminate findings to relevant public bodies and key stakeholders. The project is primarily, but not exclusively, focused on GPP in relation to public building projects. It will involve whole life cycle assessment (LCA) of case study public building projects, recommendation of GPP criteria and metrics for adoption in Ireland, and development of an innovation systems approach to critically evaluate and address implementation gaps in both GPP policy and practice in Ireland. A list of associated products and services, including low carbon construction materials and products, will also be created. The project will also include a review and comparison of GPP policy and practice against best international practice, considering the expected impact of the recommended GPP criteria on existing public procurement processes. This will include how the environmental performance of materials is assessed during the design and procurement of new public construction projects.

Modular Mass Timber Buildings For the Circular Economy (MODCONS Project)

 Start Date: 01/03/2020                                                            End Date: 29/02/2024

 Funder:                                     Department of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

 Principal Investigator:    Prof. Annette Harte, Dr Patrick McGetrick

 Project partners:                Munster technological University (MTU)

Researchers:                          Dr. Conan O'Ceallaigh (Post-Doc), Rimjhim Kashyap (PhD Researcher)

Website:                                   MODCONS Project

Objective: The supply of raw material from Irish forests is predicted to double in the period 2017-2035. In parallel with this, the Government predicts that the population of Ireland will grow by 1 million by 2040 requiring 550,000 new homes to be provided. In addition, supporting infrastructure, such as schools, hospitals, retail outlets and industrial buildings, will be required. This presents both a challenge and an opportunity. The challenge is to develop infrastructure in a sustainable way accounting for the whole life cycle of the buildings, while an opportunity exists to grow the circular bio-economy by utilising the increased supply of timber in Ireland to satisfy this demand and creating sustainable employment, particularly in rural areas. The MODCONS project will design, develop and test a sustainable modular timber building solution to support national needs while also creating export opportunities in the sector. The proposed modular building solution will maximise the use of Irish timber in cross-laminated panels for walls and floors and will be optimised for structural integrity, fire, acoustics and vibration. Underlying all aspects of the design is ensuring the modules are optimised for future deconstruction and reuse.

Innovative Design for the Future - Use and Reuse of Wood (Building) Components (InFutUReWood)

 Start Date: 01/03/2019                                                            End Date: 28/02/2022

 Funder:                                     Forestry Department of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine; EU                                                                H2020 Forest Value ERA-NET

 Principal Investigator:    Prof. Annette Harte

 Project partners:                Research Institutes of Sweden RISE (SE), Edinburgh Napier University (UK),                                                                    Technical University of Munich (DE), Aalto University (FI), University College                                                                  Dublin (IE), University of Ljubljana (SI), Technical University of Madrid (ES).

Researchers:                          Dr Caitríona Uí Chúláin (Post-doc); Dr Daniel F. Llana

Website:                                   InFutUReWood Project 

Objective: The objectives of the project are:

  1. To develop a method for ensuring future possibility of circulation of timber products with true consideration of the whole life-cycle, and practical industry issues at design, construction and deconstruction phases.
  2. To plan primary design to facilitate deconstruction rather than demolition, and to pay attention to the use of chemical treatments, adhesives and other synthetic materials – including to decide whether their use technically is necessary and avoid over-specification.
  3. To optimise the primary design to enhance resource efficiency as well as reduce environmental impacts along the life cycle (build and deconstruction)
  4. To allow grading for quality of recovered wood, and similarly variable new wood from more diverse sources, in a way that is compatible and equivalent to grading of new timber from main commercial species (including the basis in European standardisation)
  5. To identify potential new construction products using recovered timber.
  6. To examine the business, economic and environmental factors over the life-cycle to inform what is to be optimized, encouraged and avoided in design (to be described by a “rebuilding factor”).
  7. To inform current engineers, architects and wood-based construction product manufacturers through professional development, industry bodies, codes and standards.

Wood Properties for Ireland (WoodProps)

 Start Date: 01/09/2017                                                            End Date: 31/08/2020

 Funder:                                     Forestry Department of the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine

 Principal Investigator:    Prof. Annette Harte

 Project partners:                Dr Daniel Ridley-Ellis (Edinburgh Napier University),

Researchers:                          Dr David Gil-Moreno (Post-doc); Dr Conan O'Ceallaigh (Post-doc)

Website:                                   WoodProps Programme

Objective: Wood Properties for Ireland (WoodProps) is a joint project between the Timber Engineering Research Group at NUI Galway and the Centre for Wood Science and Technology, Edinburgh Napier University. It will address issues related to characterisation of Irish-grown timber and associated work at National and European level in standardisation for structural timber quality and production – with a particular focus on grading. Over the course of the project, researchers will undertake an exchange of knowledge related to wood quality, products and standards with forestry and processing industries, and will provide expert advice to regulatory bodies related to the construction of modern timber buildings.

While Sitka spruce remains the main industrial species in Ireland, there is increased emphasis on diversification to provide resilience against pests and diseases and to respond to climate change. The area of species such as larch, Norway spruce, and different broadleaves has been increasing. Characterisation of timber properties is needed to provide guidance on new planting, and best utilisation of new species coming to harvest age since very limited data is currently available on the properties of minor species grown in Ireland. For minor species already available, there is a need for structural grading data.

An active part will be taken in the CEN committees TC124WG2: Solid timber; TC124WG2TG1: Grading; Assignment to strength classes and TC124WG1: Test methods. They can have very significant consequences for the Irish timber processing sector, and WoodProps aims to improve the standards, protect Irish interests and facilitate industry involvement in standards development.

Towards Adhesive Free Timber Buildings (AFTB)

Start Date: 01/01/2017                                                            End Date: 31/03/2020

Funder:                                     EU H2020 Interreg North-West Europe

Principal Investigator:    Prof. Annette Harte

Project partners:                Dr Z Guan (University of Liverpool), Dr M Oudjene (Université de Lorraine),                                                                      Dr S Namari (Technische Universitat Dresden), Dr S Belouettar (Luxembourg                                                                  Institute of Science and Technology), F Deneufbourg (Office Économique Wallon                                                          du Bois)

Researchers:                       Sameer Mehra (PhD); Fatemeh Hamid-Lakzaeian (Post-doc); Dr. Conan O'Ceallaigh (Post-Doc)

Website:                                 AFTB Project

Objective: The research consortium will cooperate to demonstrate new adhesive free EWPs using new technology, encouraging and enabling market uptake across North West Europe (NWE). More than 5 million m3 of EWPs were produced in the EU in 2013/14 and the market is growing, as EWPs provide a ‘green’ alternative to steel and concrete in construction. The adhesive free products will be 100% reusable and recyclable. This will have a positive impact in North West Europe where the majority of EWPs go to landfill or incineration contributing to the 15 million tonnes of timber construction waste in landfill across Europe each year. The new technology, which is based on the use of densified wood dowel for product manufacture and as connectors will also contribute to the sustainable management of forests in NWE and connected rural livelihoods by adding value to locally available low-quality timber. 

 Benchmarking the sustainability performances of value chains (BENCHVALUE)

Start Date: 01/12/2016                                                                            End Date: 31/11/2019

Funders:                                   EU FP7 Sumforest ERA-NET; DAFM

Principal Investigators:  Dr Jamie Goggins; Prof. Annette Harte

Research partners:            EFI-European Forest Institute FI; BOKU AT; EFIAtlantic FR; FCBA FR; UL IE;                                                                   LAMMC LT; St Petersburg State Forest Technical University RU; IVL SE;                                                                               Univerity of Limoges FR

Objective: It is well documented that renewable wood-based materials reduce GHG emissions in the construction sector. In practice, however, the uptake of wood construction is very limited. A partial explanation is that the availability of sustainability assessments pertaining to renewable raw material value chains is limited, and where existing, are rarely comprehensive; mostly focusing on specific products and often lack benchmarking against use of non-renewable materials. BenchValue will address these shortcomings by expanding the Tool for Sustainability Impact Assessment (ToSIA) with a method for benchmarking wood material value chains against mineral and non-renewable value chains. A gap analysis will pin-point discrepancies in sustainability assessment methods and frameworks for different bio-, mineral- and fossil-based value chains. The benchmarking method will be tested in 5 case studies.

Prestressing of timber beams using FRP

Start Date: 01/10/2012                                                                               End Date: 01/10/2017

Funders:                                     IRC

Principal Investigators:    Prof. Annette Harte

Researcher:                             James Brady (PhD)

Objective: To develop a method of prestressing timber glulam beams manufactured from Irish Sitka spruce. Demonstrate the enhanced stiffness and strength of such beams.