A "wood-first" policy for publicly funded projects would "rob Peter to pay Paul", Concrete NZ says.
Chief executive Rob Gaimster has criticised calls for a central government "wood-first" policy that would mean homegrown wood and processed timber would be the preferred building material for publicly funded residential, commercial and public buildings after Covid-19.
Business chambers and forestry leaders from across the country, including the Bay of Plenty, are leading the push.
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Gaimster said "favouring one material over another would have an impact on jobs and industries the policy doesn't favour, such as the good folk in the concrete, steel and quarrying industries".
"It would undermine expertise of structural engineers, architects and quantity surveyors. They're the best people to evaluate the most suitable building materials for a project, based on product performance and commercial outcomes."
Gaimster said more than 4 million cubic metres of concrete, or 750,000 truckloads, were produced in New Zealand each year.
"We have more than 200 manufacturing sites, we have representation in every region and we have to do that because our ready-mix concrete product has to be supplied within 60 minutes."
He also rebutted claims wood was a more environmentally friendly material.
"Since 2005 we have reduced our emissions associated with cement clinker by 15 per cent."
Gaimster said new products coming on to the market would reduce the footprint by 30 per cent by 2030.
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"Concrete doesn't rot, it doesn't burn and I think environmental performance should be judged on life-cycle analysis, from cradle to grave."
Steel Construction New Zealand Executive Council chairman Frank van Schaijik said the steel industry had also been hit hard by Covid-19 and been unable to produce materials.
He said they would welcome a push to reignite the building industry regardless of which material was used but "steel is recyclable so is a better building material than concrete or timber".
"Everybody wants to favour their own industry and push their own barrow."
The Rotorua Lakes Council adopted a "wood-first" policy five years ago, the first council to do so in New Zealand.
Rotorua Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said this week if a policy was applied nationally, it would allow the Government and private sector to "support core primary producers in times of greatest need" and stimulate investment in New Zealand's engineered wood products.
Research by Deloitte indicates a 25 per cent increase in the use of wood for construction would create more than 3000 jobs across processing, forestry and transport industries and at ports nationwide, as well as indirect support jobs.