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Glasgow City council meets silver standard for timber


Glasgow City council achieved their silver pledge by using sustainable timber throughout a recent construction project with City Building (Glasgow) LLP.

Heather Grassam, trainee planner from City Building, outlines the process they went through:

“To meet the silver pledge commitment, Glasgow City council chose a City Building construction project where we could use sustainable timber throughout the building process.

Forester checking FSC paperwork.Forester checking FSC paperwork from forest to construction, it’s the paper trail that ensures FSC accountability. © Edward Parker / WWF-Canon

Ken Harris, the council’s sustainable development officer and Judith Green, our environmental officer, agreed that the new Bardowie Street care home and day care centre for older people would be the most suitable project. I attended meetings at the council offices with Ken, Jane Williamson the architect and James Horne from WWF. We discussed the process, what procedures we had to follow and paperwork we needed to complete.

At first it sounded like this would take a lot of work and time. But as the weeks and months passed, we realised we were already doing most things that were expected of us, apart from the paperwork. This process got even easier once everyone knew what they had to do, as we were all working together.

Site banksman Gerry McCallum controlled deliveries to the site and checked the delivery notes and invoices to ensure that all timber products complied with FSC or PEFC regulations. Frank McKenna double-checked these and filed them in the site’s timber folder. Because all the timber was sustainably resourced and certified, with the appropriate paperwork, we didn’t need to refuse any deliveries. Finally, site manager Davie Dryden completed the checklist provided by WWF for every delivery note and invoice, to confirm how the timber had been used.

An FSC sawmillA sawmill cutting up timber for construction. From the forest to the building site, the whole process is tracked to make sure it’s all FSC sustainable timber. © WWF-Switzerland/ A. della Bella / WWF-Canon

A few months into the process, Ken organised an in-house site audit. We found that we were more organised and controlled than before. We also had more of an interest in sustainable timber and why it’s important for the rainforest and for protecting animals’ habitats.

In December last year, Ken invited me to the Sustainable Scotland Network conference, which was really useful. It covered sustainable food procurement, the next steps for the Procurement Reform Bill and an update from WWF about their ‘What Wood You Choose’ sustainable timber campaign. It was also interesting to hear from other local authorities that have achieved their silver or gold pledges. Out of 97 local authorities that have signed up for silver pledges, 22 are Scottish councils.

They helped answer our queries and shared good practices that we could adopt in our quest for silver.

In March this year, James Horne from WWF-UK visited the City Building office with Ken to carry out our audit. In a presentation to staff, James stressed how everyone should get involved in the process because we all bring different ideas and ways of looking at things. We impressed him so much with our collation of information and the work we’d done to ensure that only sustainable timber was used for our project, we achieved our silver pledge there and then!

The Bardowie Street care home construction is ongoing, and WWF will monitor our progress right through to the fitting-out stages. This means I’ll be keeping an eye on the wood we use and making sure we keep monitoring invoices and sending WWF copies of our delivery notes until the project is finally completed.

And what’s next after this? Going for gold of course!”

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