EPD Australasia

Red Stag Timbers’ EPDs recently published

Red Stag Timber is a privately owned timber company that was established in 2003 to operate the Waipa Mill, the largest timber mill in the Southern Hemisphere.  From the outset, the company has had an ongoing commitment to continually upgrade their production facilities and improve the sustainability of their products.

In 2017, Red Stag participated in an industry wide EPD that demonstrated the carbon benefits of timber in relation to other alternative materials.  Recently they have taken this a step further, investing in two specific EPDs for their own timber products.  We spoke to Red Stags Environmental Manager, Mitch Collins, about the company’s commitment to sustainability and how their investment in EPDs is helping them to achieve their goals.

Red Stag has an ongoing commitment to sustainability, as highlighted by your 2018 win in the EECA Business Awards. What are the company’s key achievements thus far?

As noted for the Award, the installation of a new 4.2MW steam turbine and a 10MW biomass boiler at Red Stag Timber’s wood-processing plant has made significant gains in self-sufficiency and long-term energy efficiency from low-carbon wood waste. The biomass generates a surplus of electricity for site needs and also provides steam for kiln operation in drying structural timber. Without resting on our laurels, Red Stag has seen further recent expansion into a new sawmill, the largest in the Southern Hemisphere, new timber treatment plant and a dedicated business, Red Stag Wood Solutions, that provides engineered wood products as a low carbon structural solution. One of Red Stag’s mantra’s is to “Make it Better” and that is applied on site and to the building industry.

You recently published two EPDs for cross laminated timber and sawn & planed timber.  What motivated Red Stag to make this investment?

Red Stag Timber always saw the value in measuring the carbon benefits of timber when we took part in an NZ industry wide EPD back in 2017. With our renewable energy advantage and investment into efficient systems at scale, we wanted to, not only prove our additional carbon savings in production, but confidently apply those to our downstream engineered wood products.

Were there any learnings from the process of developing the EPDs?

The EPD process is iterative and often requires a lot of information to ‘balance’ inputs and outputs. That gives some good perspective on resources such as water supply, treatment chemicals and logs, and compares that with the product and waste streams. Personally, I found some opportunities for conservation and efficiencies were identified by modelling the flow of materials through the site and got a deeper understanding of where some lower hanging fruits were. Having a template to work to from other industry bodies certainly made it easier and having a defined cradle-gate-grave made the calculation more manageable.

How do you plan to use these EPDs moving forward?  

Our EPD’s have already been used proactively with customers in calculation of the nett carbon in multi-level building construction and for proving the carbon savings of using timber as a structural product. The EPD’s have also been a significant tool informing future regulation and investment in New Zealand’s Building for Climate Change policy.

Based on your experience, do you feel that EPDs are adding value to the construction industry as a whole?

Absolutely. As more of the industry embrace EPD’s we will see more apples for apples comparisons and hopefully, that competition will drive investment in environmental performance. Using materials that are grown, harvested, milled, and engineered locally and have a reduced carbon footprint will add value not only to the construction industry, but to the national economy.

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