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19 June, 2024

Built by Nature directs additional funding to address policy barriers to timber and biobased construction in Europe

AMSTERDAM June 19. To reinforce its commitment to helping shape European construction policies and deepening understanding of regulatory issues surrounding timber and biobased materials, the Built by Nature Fund has awarded a total of € 254,000 to two projects as targeted extensions of work from previous grants.

International NGO ECOS (Environmental Coalition on Standards) will build upon an earlier Built by Nature-funded project to shape key EU policy developments towards a level playing field for timber and biobased construction, with the new grant focusing on standards to support the use of secondary timber and improve supply chain carbon accounting.

Not-for-profit Dark Matter Labs, which secured funding in 2022 to develop CircuLaw - an online legal resource for Dutch policymakers and civil servants to navigate the regulations around timber construction - will expand on its initial project to include other biobased construction materials, deepen and diversify its content on timber, expand its capacity-building activities at local level, and promote replication and rollout to other European countries. 

Both grants address policy barriers from different angles: ECOS focuses on policy shaping before formulation, while the CircuLaw project focuses on policy implementation and application at the local government level after regulations have been passed. Combining both approaches and ensuring coordination with each other are critical for Built by Nature to support holistic change towards a stronger regulatory environment for timber and biobased construction.

“The grantees and our Built by Nature networks learned considerably from these two initial projects and now, with more focus, the key learnings and policy impacts can be even more relevant,”

according to Paul King, Built by Nature CEO.

“We welcome the potential of CircuLaw to include new biobased materials and find new markets for this platform, while ECOS’ work to enhance carbon accounting tools - whether around secondary, reusable timber, or with the potential monetisation of construction-stored carbon - will be particularly useful for our networks.”

To identify an EU-equivalent performance standard for secondary construction timber, ECOS will work with the Norwegian Standards Body, which are developing a similar standard. Better assessment of the performance of secondary construction elements is expected to drive larger-scale and more cost-effective reuse of timber in construction.

To strengthen carbon accounting standards across the timber supply chain, ECOS will deploy its technical advocacy at the final review stage of “ISO 13391 Greenhouse gas dynamics of wood and wood-based products”, reflecting Built by Nature’s view that full transparency around carbon accounting is vital to support improvements along the timber supply chain and strengthened safeguards to protect forests.

Justin Wilkes, Executive Director ECOS, said

“This work will show EU standardisers that we need to better codify and support the reuse of timber and that a robust and fair ISO standard can demonstrate the climate benefits of sustainably sourced timber. We are thrilled to help increase the Built by Nature networks’ understanding of EU policy and how it impacts their work."

Based on insights from its first phase, the CircuLaw project proposal will expand on its legal instruments and case studies to include non-timber biobased materials, with specific attention to insulation solutions, currently in high demand by cities. New modules will also be developed to support existing training programmes within communities of practice such as in the Metropolitan Region of Amsterdam, while expansion into other European countries will be facilitated through inclusion of content on EU regulations and identification and establishment of a suitable partnership. 

“This grant from Built by Nature enables us to continue important work as the CircuLaw team and our partners at the City of Amsterdam, AMS Institute and Wageningen University,”

according to Joost Beunderman, director at Dark Matter Labs.

“We are all intent on increasing the confidence and capacity within major cities in the Netherlands to take bold regulatory action supporting biobased construction, and circularity more in general. We can already see how CircuLaw is being used more and more within The Netherlands to navigate options for accelerating these transitions, and growing interest from abroad. It is becoming a reference in guiding local regulatory action for greater circularity, and with this Built by Nature grant we can grow its scope, reach and impact in a world that is fast reaching multiple ecological tipping points."


Work on both projects has begun, with durations of 12 - 15 months projected.