Wood proponents pushing higher with hybrid construction

The proposition is startlingly obvious in its simplicity: the earth grows our food, and the earth should grow our homes.

The man proposing this is Vancouver architect Michael Green, who says that in the last hundred years or so we have “forgotten” what we used to know about building with wood. For centuries, wood was a mainstay of construction. People erected large wooden buildings all over the world; many of them, centuries old today, are still standing. Green believes that mankind is at a crossroads in its development, in terms of how we build our housing. One path leads to more of the same, with concrete and steel buildings continuing to account for almost half of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions; this path is a dead end, he says. The other path leads to sustainable, managed growth using materials that contribute almost no emissions. Wood, as Green points out, stores carbon, it does not emit carbon. But the manufacture of concrete does the opposite, releasing vast amounts of carbon.

wood-construction-CEI-architects-concrete-EDIWeekly
CEI architects’ plan for a 40-storey wood and concrete building got an honourable mention in an international competition “Office Building of the Future.” The architects came up with a hybrid that combines the best qualities of wood and concrete, minimizing the building’s carbon footprint.

The wood he is talking about is not the “lumber” that goes into a typical two-story house. Since the 1970s, researchers have been studying and developing cross-laminated timber (CLT), for example. Consisting of several cross laminated engineered wood panels, CLT is now recognized as a high-performance construction material. It has been used to build structures as tall as seven storeys to date, though proponents say it could be used in high-rise buildings as tall as thirty storeys. A comprehensive look at CLT’s performance, manufacture, and structural properties can be found here.

Green proposes a methodology known as FFTT (Find the Forest Through the Trees). It is defined as an “open design” methodology that uses mass timber panels as the primary structural material for heights up to thirty storeys, though steel beams would be used at heights over twelve storeys. Wood used is harvested from sustainable sources and has, he claims, superior fire, acoustic and structural performance.

But another Vancouver architectural firm wants to go even farther with wood construction. A forty-storey wood and concrete building designed by CEI architects recently received “honourable mention” in an NAIOP-sponsored competition for “An Office Building of the Future.” The building combines wood and other materials like concrete in a hybrid fashion, where wood is used for “secondary” structural systems and concrete is used for the central core. Floors are made of wood-concrete composites, taking advantage of the tension quality of the wood and the compression capacity of concrete. And reinforced concrete piers support the wood trusses, providing strength and rigidity.

British Columbia allows wooden buildings to a height of six storeys for residential buildings, but new standards for wood construction are expected by 2015. Canada’s forestry research group in BC, FPInnovations, is working to ensure that builders are able to construct wooden office buildings and condos at least ten storeys tall by 2020.

 

Reprinted with permission Conco.ca

Did you miss this?

Other Popular Stories

  • Toyota Canada top producer for first time in 2015; RAV4 on a roar
  • Magna International acquires German transmission giant
  • Canada's oil and gas industry gathering in Toronto for two-day forum
  • Fuel cell market will double in five years: report
  • Audit pans government's climate change progress
  • Provinces of Alberta and B.C. cashing in on drilling rights; surpasses 2016 as commodities strengthen
  • January manufacturing sales best ever: Statistics Canada
  • Ford looking to use agave plant biomass to make green plastic for cars
  • Bombardier has to delay CSeries first test flight again
  • Zero-emissions vehicle strategy by 2018 for Canada with major boost to zero emissions infrastructure
  • Quebec aerospace industry in good shape despite setbacks
  • Norwegian group claims world's first seabed energy storage technology
  • Bombardier, Air Canada Jazz taking part in European MRO event
  • Mining association head warns governments to keep hands off
  • Construction industry pleased with majority government in Ontario
  • Thousands of construction workers needed but interest low among young
  • Ontario invests $488,250 to create new jobs in Subdbury and expand research in mining.
  • Manufacturing output grew again in August
  • Manufacturing slowdown reflects oil and dollar declines
  • Ontario increases incentives for EV buyers
Scroll to Top