17 March 2021 Press Release Built Environment

Laudes Foundation funds research into timber to help build a more sustainable future

  • Laudes Foundation supports the Centre for Natural Material Innovation at the University of Cambridge, helping establish the Growing the Future research initiative with a EUR 500,000 grant.
  • The initiative links forest management, timber economies, construction and better buildings to sequester and reduce carbon emissions in the construction industry through stronger policies and catalysing the supply chain.
  • The fund will support the creation of two new postdoctoral positions within the Centre for Natural Material Innovation to work on projects demonstrating the efficiency, quality, and environmental benefits of timber.

The construction industry accounts for almost 40 percent of global carbon emissions, with the production of building materials accounting for a quarter of that total.  There is an urgent need to find sustainable solutions to these challenges. New ways of engineering timber, coupled with careful forest management, have the potential to drive significant reductions in the carbon footprint of the construction industry.

Laudes Foundation is partnering with the Centre for Natural Material Innovation at the University of Cambridge to establish the Growing the Future research initiative, with a EUR 500,000 grant. Its aim is to accelerate the construction industry’s adoption of timber in large-scale construction.

Growing the Future directly addresses the need for the rapid adoption and more widespread use of timber as a sustainable, circular building material.  The initiative focuses on promoting timber’s benefits to the natural and built environments, and the positive impact on the communities that are part of its journey from sapling to structure.

Thanks to philanthropic support from Laudes Foundation, two new postdoctoral researchers will join the Centre to focus on optimising supply chains for timber buildings, and on policy to improve the regulatory environment that drives (and is driven by) construction.

Speaking about the partnership, Michael Ramage, Director of the Centre for Natural Material Innovation said: “We are excited to begin this partnership with Laudes Foundation and are grateful for its support. This initiative will enable the Growing the Future project to carry out its vital research into the use of timber as a renewable and energy-efficient building material. We look forward to working with Laudes Foundation to find ways to improve building quality and mitigate the human impact on climate change.”

On the partnership, James Drinkwater, Head of Built Environment at Laudes Foundation said:

“On the road to COP26 and beyond, policymakers and industry need to better understand the transformative potential of timber construction alongside solutions like clean steel and low-carbon concrete. We are proud to be supporting the globally influential work of the University of Cambridge in evidencing the climate and economic potential of a timber building transformation for both our built environment and our forests.”


Note to editors

For more information please contact

Tom Almeroth-Williams,  University of Cambridge, tom.williams@admin.cam.ac.uk

Stephanie Klotz, Laudes Foundation, s.klotz@laudesfoundaiton.org


About The Centre for Natural Material Innovation

The Centre for Natural Material Innovation is based in the Department of Architecture at the University of Cambridge. It brings together scientists, engineers and architects on research projects to find sustainable, natural building materials and to work with industry and policymakers in the construction sector to substitute traditional manufactured materials with new plant-based materials.


About Laudes Foundation

Launched in 2020, Laudes Foundation aims to inspire and challenge industry to address the dual crises of climate breakdown and social inequality by supporting initiatives that will provide solutions for a transition to a climate-positive and inclusive economy. Part of the Brenninkmeijer family enterprise, Laudes Foundation builds on six generations of entrepreneurship and philanthropy, working collaboratively to both influence finance and capital markets and transform industry with a focus on the built environment and fashion. For more information visit LaudesFoundation.org.