Ensuring timber sustainability in construction


Proving that the timber used in construction projects is legal and sustainable is becoming a key factor. BM TRADA have now addressed this with FSC® Project Chain of Custody Certification, and here they explain the benefits.

The ability to prove that timber has been derived from well-managed sources is now a key factor in the specification of timber products. But when it comes to individual construction projects, the construction industry faces specific challenges when proving that the timber specified and supplied is from legal and sustainable sources. FSC Project Chain of Custody Certification has been designed as a mechanism for independently verifying the use of certified timber in a construction project, and allowing the industry to use the certification trademarks to promote their responsibly sourced credentials.

In this case study, Andrew Kinsey, sustainability director with international construction firm Mace, explains how the company worked with multi-sector certification body BM TRADA to achieve FSC Project Certification for the prestigious Park House development in central London.

Why Project Certification?

For Mace, the international consultancy and construction company, obtaining FSC Project Certification is a vital business tool as well as a key corporate environmental responsibility.

The company, which employs over 4,000 people in 65 countries, has seen increasing interest in sustainability among clients and the general public. The spotlight is falling more and more on the provenance of building materials and companies are under increasing pressure from consumers and government agencies to prove their green credentials. Certification that can clearly demonstrate this is essential in today’s construction market.

At the same time, Mace has enshrined a strong commitment to sustainability as one of the firm’s core business values. The business is proud to work with forward-thinking customers and suppliers to achieve greater sustainability standards and project certification that reflects this.

When it comes to individual building projects, however, construction companies face specific challenges in proving that the timber specified and supplied is from sustainable sources.

In answer to this, Project Chain of Custody Certification has been designed as a mechanism for independently verifying the use of certified timber in a construction project and allowing the industry to use the certification trademarks to promote their responsibly sourced credentials.

There are currently two project certification schemes available: FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) Project Certification and PEFC (Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification) Project Certification.

When Mace won a contract with Land Securities to construct the prestigious Park House development in central London, it chose to work with world-leading multi-sector certification body BM TRADA to achieve FSC Project Certification.

Park House

In early 2010 work began on the Park House development on Oxford Street, London. The nine-storey residential and retail project comprised commercial and retail units, as well as residential apartments offering luxurious spaces in the heart of Mayfair. With only six internal columns and a spectacular double height curved glass roof, this development is now one of the most sought-after commercial addresses in London.

The journey to certification

For FSC Project Certification to be awarded, close checks are maintained to ensure that sustainability claims about the project can be met.

This involves a project manager with responsibility and authority to implement and maintain the chain of custody being appointed to oversee the process.

Meticulous records are maintained to document the purchase, delivery, receipt, invoicing and volumes of all wood products received on site, and all personnel involved in the project with a defined responsibility within the system are fully trained in chain of custody procedures. Detailed records on this training are maintained.

For Mace, additional work was required during the auditing process to achieve certification, as Andrew Kinsey, Mace Sustainability Director, explains.

He said: “With the number of contractors and suppliers involved, and the different usages of timber on-site, there was a lot required to demonstrate full compliance for project certification.

“And for each contractor it was necessary to have a person responsible for ensuring the sustainable processes were followed and all the required information collated.”

To do this, Mace set up new systems for recording the relevant documentation, necessitating the creation of bespoke IT software as well as delivery notes. In addition, training manuals for the contractors and purchasers had to be prepared and training was given to ensure they were closely followed.

The £134m project was completed in January 2013 and BM TRADA awarded full FSC Project Certification to Mace Ltd (TT-PRO-004240) the following month.


According to Kinsey, the support from the BM TRADA auditor was “invaluable” during the certification process. He said: “There are a number of certification bodies, but BM TRADA are timber specialists and the best at what they do.

“Auditors at BM TRADA are extremely thorough and knowledgeable, and try to be as helpful as they can, but always within the boundaries of the audit process.

“It’s always a pleasure to work with them.”

The Benefits of FSC Project Certification

According to Kinsey, there are demonstrable economic and environmental benefits to FSC® Project Certification and as such, it is something that Mace recommends wherever possible.

He said: “Most developers are now requesting greener credentials as they want to make claims about the environmentally-friendly nature of the project, so project certification is great for construction and building companies.

“Certification allows us and our clients to make an environmental claim as it comes with a guarantee that the timber used does not contribute to deforestation.”

Project Certification – the facts

Project Certification is a process through which individual projects – whether new build development, major refurbishment or one-off features – can obtain chain of custody certification and make claims and statements about the use of certified timber during the build.

FSC Project Certification recognises and addresses the following key challenges:

  • Multiple contractors are involved on-site and not all have their own chain of custody certification;
  • The timber supplied is from certified suppliers but the uncertified subcontractors cannot make that claim;
  • Each project will undoubtedly contain a quantity of uncertified timber;
  • Some activities involving timber will take place outside the confines of the certified site.



Tel: 01494 569700




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