Mayoral candidate Jim Anderton today promoted the virtues of wood as a building material for the rebuild of Christchurch as a “New Zealand solution”. “In fact, as Minister of Forestry I set up a Wood Design Centre at the University of Canterbury under the leadership of Professor Andy Buchanan, which would be perfectly positioned to advise on such a project”, said Jim Anderton.
“Wood is environmentally friendly because it is energy efficient. Compared to wood substitutes like steel and concrete, it needs less than a tenth of the energy. Recent research in New Zealand shows that building in wood can be eight percent cheaper than steel and reinforced concrete.
“Given our very recent experience in Christchurch, appropriately designed wooden buildings built for residential and commercial use, can also more be more earthquake proof and fire resistant.
“We export large quantities of raw logs to other countries which make good use of them but there are very few recent examples of new commercial or public buildings in New Zealand constructed predominately from wood.
“It will be important to see if we can learn from the lessons of history. The best NZ example is Napier. Its earthquake was roughly of the same magnitude. The authorities in Napier at the time took the opportunity to adopt the then best building practice in the world. And that is what is needed in Christchurch. We cannot accept ‘second best’.
“The best urban designers, architects, engineers and planners need to have a tool kit which enables a rebuilding process which is thoughtful and sensitive to the people and environment of Christchurch. We do not need our expectations damped down by saying that the result will be of a lower quality than before the quake. If anything, it should be higher.
“If we in Christchurch rediscover the advantages, beauty and flexibility of wood as a building product, our timber industry will develop as a vibrant, commercially sustainable and internationally competitive sector. A vibrant timber industry is also more likely to attract renewed investment in sustainable forestry.
“Wood is a material whose time has come in an earthquake prone country.
“It is a building material which also makes sense for all the right environmental, safety and cost reasons. More trees also help to reduce the impact of climate change, and that’s vital for New Zealand too”, Jim Anderton said today in Christchurch.