I had the pleasure of attending PreFab NZ‘s “Massive Timber Event” in Nelson yesterday.

In the first part we had a tour through Nelson Pine Industries (NPI) LVL (Laminated Veneer Lumber) plant, a massive hall built from LVL itself and hosting multi-million dollar timber fabrication machinery from Germany.
If you are interested what LVL is, have a look at NPI’s website and also their manufacturing flowchart.

The second part was a visit at Nelson NMIT, looking at their recently built LVL building with a series of presentations thereafter.

To me, the NMIT building was an attempt to create a precast concrete structure in timber, with very similar details which sometime look interesting and sometimes rather overdimensioned and unsuitable. However all in all a good showcase for LVL.

Learnings from the event: NZ and in particular NPI has to offer more that matchstick buildings.  However that requires a big deal of early cross-discipline coordination and communication as well as a digital workflow to optimize systems early.

Waitomo Glow Worm Cave Visitor Centre
Waitomo Glow Worm Cave Visitor Centre

It also requires to sit together with the fabricator and manufacturers to explore the possibilities of the material. An amazing example is probably the Waitomo Glow Worm Cave Visitor Centre.

From an environmental point of view, timber products offer a better alternative generally than their steel or concrete counterpart, however may not be suitable for all applications – horses for courses applies.

Noteworthy is NPI’s carbon footprint statement:

Over 70% of the NPIL energy requirements on site are for producing heat. We generate almost all of our own heat requirement by burning wood residues. This is a form of Biofuel and is considered greenhouse gas neutral under the Kyoto protocol.
Since growing trees absorb CO2, NPIL is part of a ‘virtuous cycle’. In addition, carbon is stored in the wood products we produce while they are used in buildings or furniture. Another plus is that by processing wood into profitable end products we are encouraging more people to grow more trees. This is a better land use in terms of climate change than farming sheep or cattle.

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