Alliance for Sustainable Building Products receives Built by Nature Accelerator Fund grant to create guidance for insuring mass timber buildings

LONDON – September 28 To confront the challenges of securing insurance for mass timber buildings and create an industry-accepted guidance and playbook for developers, investors and designers, the UK-based Alliance for Sustainable Building Products (ASBP) has been awarded a €97,000 Accelerator Fund from Built by Nature, a network and grant-making organisation with a mission to accelerate the timber building transformation in Europe. Co-funding of €17,400 and in-kind expertise are provided by global insurance broker Marsh, and Zurich Resilience Solutions, part of Zurich Insurance Group.

The objective of the Mass Timber Insurance Playbook is to facilitate and streamline the process of obtaining insurance for both construction and ongoing occupation of mass timber buildings. Extensive industry research has identified the difficulties of insuring timber buildings, and the Playbook aims to be a relevant and practical resource to help overcome these challenges, with early-stage engagement of all parties a key element of success in the design and planning processes.

In partnership with the ASBP, the development of the guide will be overseen by the founder of Mass Timber Risk Consulting Ltd, Philip Callow, who has 19 years of experience as a construction insurance broker and underwriter, and Jim Glockling, previous Director at RISCAuthority, the leading UK risk assessment organisation for construction, and currently an independent consultant and Visiting Professor, School of Natural Sciences University of Central Lancashire. Prof. Glockling authored, in association with UK insurers, the widely circulated 2022 industry publication which described the insurance challenges of mass timber construction. The ASBP will assume a project coordination and market engagement role.

The guide will clearly identify steps on how to engage insurers as early as possible to ensure that the correct questions are asked toward enabling timber use without compromising overall building resilience. The draft will be reviewed by insurers, developers, asset managers and fire engineers through four workshops including Built by Nature’s network in the UK. The Mass Timber Insurance Playbook will be set out over the design stages established by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), who have agreed to act as peer reviewers.

Editorial input and review will also be provided by Marsh, along with developer Human Nature and specialist contractor Eurban, builders of the RIBA Stirling Prize shortlisted The New Library, Magdalene College. Construction and property consultants Gardiner & Theobald are also providing peer review and validation. The final Playbook will be disseminated through ASBP’s and Built by Nature’s networks, as well as being featured on the RIBA website. Marsh and Zurich will also distribute the document through their networks and on-line channels.


According to Amanda Sturgeon, Built by Nature CEO: “This grant supports development of a clear solution to a key barrier, and brings together experts in the field with extensive knowledge of the fundamental risk factors involved along with the insights of the commercial interests underpinning the demand for mass timber. This important project exhibits considerable credibility, with buy-in from influential players in the industry and from RIBA, while being led by key members of the UK Built by Nature network. Built by Nature is also optimistic about the adaptability and applicability of the guide to other jurisdictions, and we’re confident that our pan-European network will find relevance and value in this Playbook’s compilation of practical steps toward securing insurance for mass timber buildings.”

Simon Corbey, Director, Alliance for Sustainable Building Products, said: “We’re really excited to be leading this project to help overcome the insurance challenges involved with mass timber construction and unlock the many advantages of building with timber, such as low embodied carbon, sequestering (or storing) carbon, speed of construction, reduced on site noise, dust and vehicle movement. We have brought together a team of industry experts to write and review the Playbook, which will be widely and freely available from launch May next year.”

Philip Callow, Founder of Mass Timber Risk Consulting Ltd, said: “This timely and important body of work brings together experts in the field of design, contracting, engineering, risk protection, insurance underwriting and broking, to create an equitable framework of insurability for the benefit of all parties.”

Jim Glockling, Principal, Glockling Consulting, said: “This initiative marks an important point in the acceptance of insurers’ concerns and a recognition that words alone are not enough to ensure insurability. Using well adopted resilience reasoning the guide will aim to introduce the currently missing balance between sustainability and resilience to fire and other insured perils including escape of water and flood.

Photo courtesy Nick Kane: New Library, Magdalene College, Cambridge

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