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New Geelong CLT factory a ‘game-changer’

BETTER BUILDING
MADELEINE SWAN

Quintessential Equity has hailed the opening of a new Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) processing and off-site manufacturing factory at Avalon Airport’s new industrial precinct, as a major win for both the City of Geelong and the building industry’s march toward more sustainable methods of construction.

Executive chairman of Quintessential Equity, Shane Quinn, says the launch of Cross Laminated Offsite Solutions’ (CLOS) factory will create local jobs, support sustainable development and bring significant potential to grow an advanced manufacturing industry in Geelong.

“Green design is no longer an option, it’s an expectation. We believe every new building in Australia from today onwards has to be designed with sustainability top of mind.

“The CLOS factory in Geelong will be a game-changer for the construction industry in Victoria and beyond. Local, accessible mass engineered timber will help put Australia in contention to meet and exceed global standards like WELL Ratings and the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.

“We’re excited about CLOS because Quintessential Equity wants to use CLT technology – we’d love to construct our first CLT building in Geelong. What’s more, it will support local advanced manducating and we’re big supporters of that.

“Building with CLT is sustainable and efficient. Eight times the amount of carbon is emitted to produce a tonne of concrete compared to a tonne of timber, and building costs can be reduced by up to 20 percent during construction,” says Quinn.

“One of our earlier projects in Parramatta set the benchmark for exemplar sustainability winning the Energy Efficiency Council (EEC) Best Commercial Building Energy Efficiency Project. We’ve also halved the carbon footprint of the NAB’s headquarters building in Adelaide and recently achieved global best practice at 1 Malop Street right here in Geelong, which also created hundreds of local jobs.”

The CLOS factory, set to open mid-2019, will ‘pre-fabricate’ engineered timber products into walls, floors, roofs and other building components, adding the necessary cladding, insulation and plasterboards. The materials will then be sent to building sites where they will be assembled and used in construction, using a similar principle as IKEA flat pack furniture.

While CLOS will initially import the cross laminated timber (CLT) used, the company aims to become Australia’s second CLT producer within five years, which would create around 100 direct local jobs as well as secondary employment in areas such as transportation.

Along with CLT processing and offsite manufacturing, CLOS will process laminated veneer lumber (LVL) and glued laminated timber (glulam).

CLOS founder and managing director, John Fitzgibbon, was previously part of the building team for the new WorkSafe building in Geelong, where he saw an opportunity for Geelong to lead the way in mass engineered timber manufacturing.

“Mass engineered timber like CLT has so much potential. When you look at places like Europe and parts of the US, it’s clear Australia isn’t doing enough of it,” says Fitzgibbon.

The current prefabricated housing market in Australia is a $4.5 billion sector, or three percent of the $150 billion construction industry, whereas Germany and Sweden’s prefabricated modular housing accounts for about 20 percent and 70 percent of their respective industries.

“There’s real opportunity for a major advanced manufacturing industry in Geelong – we have the space, the local workforce and the lifestyle that makes workers want to stay and live in the area. With the demise of hard manufacturing and the resurgence of white-collar jobs, I see advanced manufacturing as the next stage of Geelong’s economic growth.”

The Geelong Manufacturing Council (GMC) also welcomes the arrival of CLOS. GMC’s CEO, David Peart, says they are looking forward to assisting the CLOS team to grow and connect with other businesses in the region.

“The arrival of CLOS to the Geelong region is a welcome addition to our local advanced manufacturers. This arrival will reinforce our region as a Victorian Advanced Manufacturing Centre of Excellence. We look forward to supporting CLOS through our network and various programs and events that will assist long-term sustainable growth for the business,” says Peart.

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