How do we build new homes while minimising impact on the environment? University construction experts have pioneered tech to reduce heat loss and noise levels, while other researchers are helping make more of our existing housing stock.

Despite the size of the UK's forestry industry, we still import most of the timber we use in construction. Dr Dan Ridley-Ellis of the University's Centre for Wood Science and Technology believes we can do a lot better, particularly with the main commercial species like Sitka spruce, which can play a much bigger role in the country's construction industry.

The Centre's work includes improving European standards for structural timber production, grading of timber, the segregation of logs and trees for optimal conversion into usable material, and advising the UK's tree-planting and breeding programmes on future wood quality. There's also work under way to improve the general perception of UK-grown timber for construction use.

“I’m a bit of a tree-hugger, although I don’t necessarily expect them to hug me back,” said Dr Ridley-Ellis, who is also an active organiser and member of Bright Club – academics who use comedy gigs to reach a wider audience with their research.

The Centre’s work has helped reduce wastage of energy and raised the value of wood throughout the industry, enhancing sustainability and encouraging growth in forest area.

Interested in this project? Contact Dr Ridley-Ellis.