Investing in the future of British forests and homegrown timber remains key to accelerating economic development. With a positive effect on supply chains as well as wider sustainability goals, its benefits go beyond the positive environmental impact and offer opportunities for wildlife, people, and local rural economies.  

The COP26 House, designed by Peter Smith of Roderick James Architects, aims to showcase what we can achieve with the materials and technologies we have available today. It demonstrates the simple, affordable way to build beautiful, sustainable homes that can help us meet our climate commitments.  

Constructed in central Glasgow for the UN Climate Change Conference held between 1-12 November 2021, the COP26 House has been designed with small scale, rural self-build developments in mind, but can be adapted to larger scale developments and offsite prefabrication.  

Central to the house is homegrown UK timber, provided by BSW Group, the UK’s largest integrated forestry business. The UK timber sector is worth over £10 billion to the economy, providing thousands of jobs across the country in forestry, sawmills, high-tech manufacturers, merchants, and housebuilding. 

“The impact of COVID-19 has seen consumers increasingly interested in more environmentally friendly, sustainable, and ethical purchases. The pandemic has also presented an opportunity for homegrown British brands to demonstrate innovation, agility and most importantly, a fighting spirit. The COP26 House embodies this vision,” says Tony Hackney, CEO, BSW Group.  

To develop the house, Roderick James Architects and BSW Group, joined together with over 20 companies from across the home building sector to form Beyond Zero Homes. This group includes Robertson, Urban Union, NorDan, MEDITE SMARTPLY, Steico, Paul Heat Recovery, National Timber Group, Herschel Infrared, Orluna Lighting, Fakro, EcoMerchant and Circular Technology, who together bring their expertise to the development. 

“Timber grown in the UK has historically been used for non-structural applications, such as fencing and pallets. However, the COP26 House has substantiated the viability of using home-grown timber frame systems in new-build housing.  Leveraging the potential of homegrown timber can instigate an ecosystem of organic growth, unlocking the potential of a sector that can lead the way in making the new normal a sustainable future.” adds Tony.  

Peter Smith, Roderick James Architects: “It is vital that the houses we are building now are truly sustainable, with low carbon in construction and in use. But with the COP26 house, we wanted to demonstrate that truly sustainable, ecologically responsible buildings can also be beautiful, comfortable to live in and low cost to build using natural materials.” 

“We applaud the work BSW has been doing over many years to encourage the uptake and use of our own homegrown timber. Homegrown timber has been central to the design of the COP26 House, enabling it to be classified as a zero carbon building throughout its lifecycle.”  The COP26 House is an important milestone in the move towards mainstream use of home-grown timber in the housebuilding sector, to reduce transport miles and carbon emissions and support local sawmillers and growers. There are an ever-expanding number of skilled architects, builders, joiners, and timber framers that are passionate about building high-performance, sustainable homes with homegrown and local timber.