AHEC in Athens
Published: 02 November, 2009
ATHENS: AHEC (American Hardwood Export Council) welcomed 150 delegates from around the world to its European Convention in Athens last week.
Held bi-annually, the Convention provides an opportunity for representatives from the timber trade to network and gather information on the market conditions, forecasts and trends which will impact on their businesses in the future. Unsurprisingly, the key themes for this year’s events were the economic climate, business recovery and green procurement.
This year’s high profile speakers included Ed Pepke from the UNECE/FAO Timber Committee who opened proceedings with his presentation on ‘The impact of the global recession and the road to recovery', focusing on the challenges of the current economic climate and setting the scene for a more optimistic future. Jim Greaves of Hopkins Architects led a discussion on green procurement with a practicing architect’s perspective on the bureaucracy and box ticking associated with today’s green building schemes. The panel discussion also included briefings by Dr. Richard Murphy of Imperial College on AHEC’s LCA (Life Cycle Assessment) initiative and by Mike Snow, Executive Director on the issue of Certification.
AHEC’s ongoing commitment to research to extend the use and applications of American hardwood species in its Hardwoods Solutions strategy was also highlighted in a session by Neil Summers of leading treatment specialists Osmose who presented the latest results of the tulipwood research project.
The research, which has been showcased with tulipwood projects at the 2008 London Design Festival and the 2009 Hay Festival is focused on the development of a treatment for this sustainable and prolific species to make it suitable for outdoor applications, opening up new markets such as cladding.
David Venables, european director of AHEC, said: “The role of the Convention is really important this year because it provides the insights and information which will help the trade as it plans ahead for better times. The complex issue of green procurement dominates the sector and this was an opportunity to focus on the work AHEC is doing in areas such as LCA and sustainable treatments to provide architects with the data they need to confidently specify American hardwoods for a wide range of projects.”