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Sustainable Accoya® wood replaces hardwood to enhance ecological habitat in Thames Estuary Environment Agency collaboration

Sustainable Accoya® wood replaces hardwood in Thames Estuary Environment Agency collaboration

November 11, 2020

  • Environment Agency chooses Accoya® to replace hardwood for assets that support bio-diversity
  • Accsys donated the wood to gather further data on durability and longevity in marine environments, adding to positive testing results from the Mediterranean and North Sea.

Fenders are not only an essential part of flood management assets in the Thames Estuary, they also provide unique bio-diversity niches in tidal waters, promoting healthy and diverse habitats. Accoya® wood, donated by Accsys via its distributor International Timber, is being used by the Environment Agency’s TEAM2100 programme as proof of concept that it can replace hardwood, provide habitat and contribute to achieving the organisation’s Net Zero ambition.

Sustainability consultancy 540 WORLD recommended Accoya® wood to TEAM2100 because of its sustainable credentials and unique suitability for this project: made from fast-growing softwood, its enhanced properties coupled with its Cradle to Cradle Certified™ overall Gold level and Platinum Material Health rating offer great environmental benefits, further multiplied by its long-life durability. The process that makes Accoya® so resilient also makes it very stable, minimising any swelling, shrinkage or warping from exposure to or immersion in water.

“TEAM2100 is the Environment Agency’s 10-year programme to refurbish and replace flood risk management assets in London and the Thames Estuary. Asset management approaches enable sustainable delivery. Choosing construction options and materials are part of this approach, and material ‘provenance’ is key to delivering sustainably. Certification processes, such as the Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Products Program, help achieve this and permit identification of materials that consider the effects of their production on the environment, minimise energy and water use and aid social fairness. We look forward to observing the performance of Accoya® wood as a potential substitute for hardwood.“

Dr. Jo Guy, Environment Agency and Environment and Sustainability Manager for TEAM2100

Sustainability consultancy 540 WORLD worked with Accsys and TEAM2100 to implement this important sustainability initiative, with a view to more widespread substitution of slow-growing hardwood with fast-growing, rapidly carbon-sequestering and very durable Accoya®. The lack of toxic or plastic-based additives to Accoya® is vital to its use in these environments, eliminating the risk of potential leaching into the water and environmental or ecological harm.

Each cubic metre of Accoya® contains nearly one tonne of CO2e absorbed by certified sustainable forests, and keep that carbon safely stored for decades: it is warrantied for 50 years above ground, and 25 years in fresh water, with previous tests also indicating exceptional durability and integrity in marine environments. This installation in the Thames Estuary will provide further data on long-term performance, adding to the consensus of positive data from sites in the Mediterranean and North Seas.